Activism Environment

Shell Abandons Arctic Drilling to Kayaktivist Glee

Backbone Campaign, flickr
Written by Ethan M. Long

Royal Dutch Shell will be leaving the Arctic waters behind as their Chukchi Sea Exploration Plan comes to a quick close, the multi-national oil corporation announced today. The plan to drill for oil off the Alaskan coast has been the subject of much controversy, with activists raising concerns not only about the impact oil and carbon emissions have on climate change, but the area’s numerous at-risk animal populations.

In June and July, before the Shell commenced drilling operations, protesters flocked to the seas, blocking large vessels in their kayaks. After drilling for about two months, the amount of gas and oil found was way lower than what they has estimated. Therefore, starting today, the vessels that kayaktivists attempted to block while leaving the ports of northwest Washington will begin to head back.

“This is a clearly disappointing exploration outcome,” said Marvin Odum, Director, Shell Upstream Americas, in a statement released by the corporation today.

“This is a victory for everyone who has stood up for the Arctic. Whether they took to kayaks or  canoes, rappelled from bridges, or spread the news in their own communities, millions of people around the world have taken action against Arctic drilling,” said Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard in a statement. “Today they have made history.”

The drilling site, known as the Burger J well, is now in the process of being sealed. It will then be abandoned.

“Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future,” read the statement by Shell. “This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.”

It seems like the protesters who fought hard against the exploration plan also impacted those in charge, as Guardian writer Terry Macalister wrote in an earlier version of his story published today.

“Shell has also privately made clear it is taken aback by the public protests against the drilling which are threatening to seriously damage its reputation,” wrote Macalister. The line has since been redacted.

Greenpeace plans to keep on fighting, encouraging supporters to send letters telling President Obama to “Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground!”

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“Shell announced today that it will stop drilling for oil in the Arctic for the foreseeable future, finally throwing in the towel on its $7 billion gamble,” their page states. “This win proves that people power can help protect our fragile planet.”

They state that the Department of Interior announced “10.2 billion tons of coal” from American land will be for sale, and that President Obama has already approved this move.

“Today, President Obama can also make history by cancelling any future drilling and declaring the U.S. Arctic Ocean off limits to oil companies,” said Leonard. “There is no better time  to keep fossil fuels like Arctic oil in the ground, bringing us one step closer to an energy revolution and sustainable future.”

“Ask President Obama to declare Arctic oil off-limits for drilling, and keep federal coal and other fossil fuels in the ground,” Greenpeace says.

The protesters, who flew banners reading “SHELL NO” between their kayaks in the icy waters have found a reason to say “SHELL YES” today. It’s a welcome win in the ongoing struggle for the environment.

Source: Greenpeace, The Guardian, Shell

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Ethan M. Long

Ethan Long is a journalist based out of Boston, MA.

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Shell Abandons Arctic Drilling to Kayaktivist Glee

by Ethan M. Long
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