Shell ceased operations in the Arctic

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PMIn what some are calling a people’s victory and others a case of diminutive financial prospects, Shell is pulling out of the Arctic. They drilled to a total depth of 6800 feet this summer,  but did not find sufficient oil and gas to warrant continuing. Shell ceased operations in the Arctic and “will continue to de-mobilize people and equipment from the Chukchi Sea.”

A Futile Search In the Chukchi Sea

Shell Oil's Polar Pioneer Arctic Drilling Rig in Seattle by Chas Redmond via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)
Shell Oil’s Polar Pioneer Arctic Drilling Rig in Seattle by Chas Redmond via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

The oil company is believed to have spent about $7 billion on Arctic offshore development and has faced increasing pressure from shareholders worried about the plunging share price and the costs of what has so far been a futile search in the Chukchi Sea.

“The Shell Alaska team has operated safely and exceptionally well in every aspect of this year’s exploration program,” said Marvin Odum, Director, Shell Upstream Americas. “Shell continues to see important exploration potential in the basin, and the area is likely to ultimately be of strategic importance to Alaska and the US. However, this is a clearly disappointing exploration outcome for this part of the basin.”

An Unmitigated Defeat

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven responded with a press release stating:

Kayaktivists from the sHellNo! Action Council greeted Shell's Arctic Destroyer in the Port Angeles. The growing fleet of kayaks took their call to action to "Save the Arctic" from the land, out to sea, and even the air! Equipped with paddles, PFD's and a whole lot of heart, they brought their message,"Arctic Drilling = Climate Chaos," right to Shell. Paddlers probed the 100 yard "safety zone" of the Polar Pioneer, the platform being prepped for pillaging the arctic. Photo Credit: Charles Conatzer & the sHellNo! Action Council via Flickr (CC BY SA< 2.0 License)
Kayaktivists from the sHellNo! Action Council greeted Shell’s Arctic Destroyer in the Port Angeles.Photo Credit: Charles Conatzer & the sHellNo! Action Council via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

“Big oil has sustained an unmitigated defeat. They had a budget of billions, we had a movement of millions. The ‘unpredictable regulatory environment’ that forced Shell out of the Arctic is otherwise known as massive pressure from more than 7 million people. For three years we faced them down, and the people won.

The Save the Arctic movement has exacted a huge reputational price from Shell for its Arctic drilling programme. And as the company went another year without striking oil, that price finally became too high. They’re pulling out.”

He added,

“Soon the nations of the world will gather in Paris to negotiate a deal on climate change. Shell’s defeat shows which way the wind is blowing. If a movement of seven million people can beat one of world’s biggest energy companies, think what we can do when we come together in our tens and hundreds of millions. This is a moment to appreciate that when we assert our power, we can win extraordinary victories in the fight against climate change.”

Top Photo Credit: Sea Ice Patterns from the 2011 expedition of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas – by NASA/Kathryn Hansen via Flickr (CC BT SA, 2.0 License)

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