Kulluk grounding report shows oil industry failures are inevitable

Apr 3, 2014

The Kulluk drill rig ran aground near Kodiak, Alaska, on New Year's Eve, 2012.

U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard today released a new report on its review of the grounding of the Kulluk oil-drilling rig in Alaska on December 31, 2012. The report details Shell’s financial and tax considerations, missteps, mechanical oversights and failures in the Kulluk’s grounding. In response to the report, The Wilderness Society issues the following statement from Alaska-licensed engineer Lois Epstein, the organization’s Arctic program director:

“Today’s comprehensive report by the U.S. Coast Guard provides extensive evidence of the extraordinarily complex nature of Arctic Ocean drilling and mobilization operations,” Epstein said. “Problems and wholesale failures like the grounding of the Kulluk, Shell’s drill rig, near Kodiak Island are inevitable. When you add in a profit incentive – in this case, the avoidance of taxes – you basically guarantee that industry will take short-cuts to accomplish its goals. 

“Because the risk of Arctic Ocean oil development is so great and opportunities for energy production are increasingly available elsewhere, Shell should reconsider continuation of its Arctic Ocean oil drilling program.” 

Also in response to the Coast Guard report, Sen. Ed Markey, (D-Mass.) issued a statement saying, “This report shows that Shell ran through every single safety and common sense red light in moving this rig because of financial considerations. This kind of behavior should raise major red flags for any future Arctic drilling plans.” Markey is a member of the Senate Commerce and Environment Committees.