Canceled 2013 oil drilling shows Shell underestimated Arctic challenges

Feb 27, 2013

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (Feb. 27, 2013) – After a year of serious missteps, and with its troubled drill rigs headed for Asia  to undergo extensive repairs, Royal Dutch Shell announced today that it has suspended plans for oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean in 2013.

“This comes as no surprise,” said Lois Epstein, an Alaska-licensed engineer and Arctic Program Director for The Wilderness Society. “Shell has had numerous, serious problems in getting to and from the Arctic as well as problems operating in the Arctic. Shell’s managers have not been straight with the American public, and possibly even with its own investors, on how difficult its Arctic Ocean operations have been this past year.”

Shell was plagued by accidents and errors throughout the 2012 drilling season ( ), before its Kulluk drill rig ran aground on New Year’s Eve, and the Noble Discoverer drill ship  is  the subject of a criminal investigation over safety and pollution-related violations. Both pieces of drilling equipment now require repairs, the extent of which remains unknown.

“The big, long-term question is whether Arctic Ocean drilling, which always will be among the riskiest and most costly oil drilling in the world, will pencil out as shale oil and deepwater production increases worldwide,” Epstein said. 


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Tim Woody