Shell to export Arctic oil drilling failures

According to multiple media reports, today Shell and Russian company Gazprom Neft will sign an agreement on strategic partnership on the development of hydrocarbons in the Russian Arctic offshore. The expected agreement coincides with the visit of president Putin to the Netherlands on the 8th of April.

Kulluk aground on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island on 1 January 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg

Kulluk aground on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island on 1 January 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg

“This move is of great concern,” says Mikhail Babenko of WWF. “Shell has repeatedly demonstrated in its activities last year in the Alaskan offshore that it does not have the capacity required to safely drill for oil in the Arctic. It would simply be exporting failure from the United States to Russia. Other oil companies, such as the French company Total, and the Russian company Lukoil have recently agreed with the view of WWF and other experts that there is no proven safe technology to drill for oil in the offshore Arctic.”

In 2012 Shell completely failed at all stages of its drilling programme, and the US Coast Guard is investigating the company for potential violation of international marine environmental rules. This February Shell announced that drilling in Alaska will be postponed. In moving its operations to Russia, it would appear that Shell is moving to a territory with less rigorous environmental regulation and less transparency in project implementation.

The risks and potential impacts associated with Arctic offshore oil and gas development are currently unacceptably high and unmanageable. WWF believes that without proper regulation of operations, available proven techniques for prevention and response to oil spills and adequate knowledge about Arctic systems there should be no new development of hydrocarbons in the Arctic offshore.

Source: WWF