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Shell drilling vessel in the Arctic. Photo: US Coastguard.
Shell drilling vessel in the Arctic. Photo: US Coastguard.
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Shell scraps 2014 Arctic drilling

The Ecologist

31st January 2014

Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden has announced that the company will not attempt to drill in the Alaskan Arctic in 2014. Greenpeace responds: 'Get out for good!'

The only wise decision at this point is for Mr. Van Beurden to cut his company's losses and scrap any future plans to drill in the remote Arctic ocean.

The decision follows a US court ruling last week - reported in The Ecologist - which demands more detailed environmental information from the US administration, following a legal challenge from a number of environmental and Indigenous groups

Responding to the news, Greenpeace International Arctic oil campaigner Charlie Kronick said:

"Shell's decision to gamble on the Arctic was a mistake of epic proportions. The company has spent huge amounts of time and money on a project that has delivered nothing apart from bad publicity and a reputation for incompetence.

Shell should cut its losses - and go!

"The only wise decision at this point is for Mr. Van Beurden to cut his company's losses and scrap any future plans to drill in the remote Arctic ocean.

"Shell's Arctic failure is being watched closely by other oil companies, who must now conclude that this region is too remote, too hostile and too iconic to be worth exploring. In an era of declining profits, increasing costs and unprecedented levels of public scrutiny the Arctic is simply not worth the risk.

"Millions of people around the world have helped to shine a light on Arctic drilling and this has started to affect Shell's brand. We will continue to increase this pressure as long as the company continues its stubborn pursuit of the fragile Arctic environment.

"This is one of the defining environmental issues of our time. We are drawing a line in the ice here to say to these oil companies ‘you come no further'."

Shell's $5 billion mistake

Shell has spent over $5bn on its Alaska program since 2003, and has failed to drill a single well after a series of blunders and near disasters during an accident prone drilling season in 2012.

Since late December alone, over 150,000 people have written to Shell's new CEO Ben Van Beurden asking him to scrap the company's Arctic plans and recognise the unique technical challenges of operating in this environment.

Greenpeace campaigner James Turner commented: "The Arctic has become an albatross around Shell's neck. It's turning into a curse, something that feels as if it was doomed from the start.

"The region carries high costs, high risks and a huge level of uncertainty. Years of failure have made a major dent in the company's reputation, and the billions that are seeping away are making investors and shareholders nervous.

"And bigger than all of this, much bigger, is the folly of drilling for oil in one of the most fragile and beautiful places on our earth. This is the biggest mistake the company has made."



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