Absolutely Stupid!   2 comments

Shell is suspending exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Bad news for Alaska, bad news for the country.


At stake is around 26.6 billion barrels of oil. For perspective, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline has transported 16 billion barrels to Valdez over its 35 year history. Since the US Geological Survey likely underestimated the oil reserve, we’re talking something around two to two-and-half times the amount of oil that the TAPS has transported so far from Prudhoe Bay.

Shell had an excellent window of opportunity for drilling in 2011, but the EPA held them up over air quality concerns. All the permits were in place, but an environmental group filed a protest over air quality in a village nearly 50 miles from the drill site — a village where most of the residents were hoping to get jobs on the drill rig. For those unfamiliar with the Alaskan North Slope — it’s really WINDY there. Air quality is very rarely an issue. But, the protest delayed the exploratory drilling by a year and forced Shell to substitute the Kullak in order to meet the air quality standard required. It’s a stupid drill rig. It’s round. Completely unsuited for Alaskan maritime conditions. It couldn’t handle the ice in the spring and it couldn’t handle the heavy seas in the fall.

So now there’s 30 billion barrels of oil stranded in the Chukchi Sea and the environmentalists want it to stay that way.


And people wonder why Alaska keeps circling back to the secession discussion. Really? You don’t know why we’re thinking that way? Amazing!

2 responses to “Absolutely Stupid!

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  1. Reread your post. The essence of it is this: Shell doesn’t yet have the technological capacity to drill cleanly and safely in Alaska’s challenging sea conditions. It’s not “stupid,” it’s just the way it is, and be careful who you’re painting with your overly broad “environmentalist” brush and pointing blaming fingers at. A lot of subsistence hunters and gatherers want better proof that Shell can handle it up here. Be Patient. Eventually, inevitably, there will be oil extraction up here. That oil isn’t going anywhere, and all the while it is appreciating in value. When it’s finally tapped into, the hope is that whoever gets the contract will have the stuff to do it the right way.


    • Actually, you’re completely incorrect as was the news article that I posted. Shell had the technology. The first ship they wanted to use was an arctic-tested vehicle. All permits were in place, both with the State of Alaska (which has much more stringent standards than the Department of Energy for drilling off shore) and the Department of Energy. The EPA issued a hold on the drilling in summer 2011 based on air quality concerns for a village that is a significant distance from the drill site and has never had air quality concerns. The ship Shell had been permitted to use could not meet the new EPA PM 2.5 standards. So, Shell had to go with the Kulluk which is not an arctic worthy vessel.

      Yes, Shell does have the technological capacity to safely drill in the arctic. They weren’t permitted to use the technology they have.

      And, by the way, those “subsistence hunters” you’re talking about filed their own lawsuit against EPA in support of Shell. They need the jobs. Subsistence hunting requires a lot of money and modern technology like boats, rifles, and snow machines. It is not noble savages in seal-skin parkas going after the game with spears in umiats anymore.

      You don’t know the situation on the ground. You know what you read on the Greenpeace and Sierra Club sites. That is ignorance at its highest — political propaganda that sees all development as evil while they ride their expensive oil-driven planes to get on their expensive oil-driven boat to protest while wearing their expensive oil-made outdoor clothing. In the meantime, Alaskans just lost 5000 downline jobs from this stupidity.

      You want to know how to do something right? You let Alaskans who know the conditions make the choices, rather than bureaucrats in Washington taking money from environmentalists decide.


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