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Posts tagged ‘drill’

Spill Baby Spill – Arctic Oil

Dear Gabriel,

Weeks away from starting the first major offshore oil drilling operations in the Arctic, Shell is pulling a major bait and switch — telling the EPA it can’t meet the air pollution rules the company had already agreed to in order to get a drilling permit.

Shell has known since 2010 it would have problems meeting the rules for nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions. But officials still told the EPA they could. Now Shell wants the EPA to weaken the rules at the last minute?

It’s clear that Shell simply cannot be trusted. The company’s request gives the EPA the option to cancel Shell’s permit. That’s exactly what EPA must do.

This is our last, best opportunity to block Shell from drilling in the Arctic this summer.

Tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Reject Shell’s permit to drill in the Arctic. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

This bait and switch is the latest in a long list of broken promises, walk-backs and mishaps which should serve as clear signs to the Obama Administration that allowing Shell to drill in the Arctic is a recipe for disaster.

Just this weekend, Shell literally lost control of its Discoverer drilling rig, which either ran aground or very nearly did so, when its anchor broke while harbored a thousand miles south of the Arctic. Moderate winds are being blamed — yet these winds are mild compared to what it will encounter in the Arctic. The rig, one of the oldest in the world, had a similar anchor malfunction just last year, while it was stationed in New Zealand.

Shell is also having problems with its nearly forty-year-old oil spill recovery barge. While Shell promised the Coast Guard it would upgrade it substantially to withstand stronger weather, Shell now says those upgrades aren’t necessary. The Coast Guard hasn’t yet decided if it will weaken these standards for Shell.

And of course — while we’ve known for some time that the Obama Administration was being hoodwinked by Shell’s hopelessly inadequate oil spill response plan — now Shell has come out and admitted its initial spill response claims were overstated. Shell initially said it could “recover” 95% of oil in the case of a major spill. Now Shell is saying that what it actually meant is “encounter” 95% of the oil — whatever that means.5

Tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Reject Shell’s permit to drill in the Arctic. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Shockingly, the Department of Interior has put the probability of an oil spill in the Arctic at 40%.

That is simply unacceptable. With Shell in the driver’s seat, it’s clear that it would be unwise to even bank on those unacceptably high odds.

Shell’s request to EPA is a major opportunity for President Obama and the EPA to revisit the undeserved trust they have put in Shell thus far. It’s time for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to be a hero, and draw a line to stop the next major drilling disaster in the Arctic.

With Shell hoping to start drilling as soon as the Arctic sea ice clears in the coming weeks, EPA’s response could come any day. Click here to automatically add your name to the petition now.

Thank you for defending the Arctic from reckless offshore drilling.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

We’ve Got It Covered

Shell Says It Can ‘Encounter’ 95 Percent of an Arctice Oil Spill, Not Collect it.
From Nation of Change
by Joe Smyth
2 July 2012

As Shell’s rigs head toward the Arctic to exploit melting sea ice to drill for more oil, the company took a small step this weekend in clarifying what would happen in an oil spill during the company’s planned Arctic drilling operations this summer.

Despite the oil industry’s spin, experts know it is impossible to recover more than a small fraction of a major marine oil spill, as retired Coast Guard Admiral Roger Rufe told NPR: “But once oil is in the water, it’s a mess. And we’ve never proven anywhere in the world — let alone in the ice — that we’re very good at picking up more than 3 or 5 or 10 percent of the oil once it’s in the water.”

So how is it possible, according to the New York Times, that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar “said he believed the company’s claims that it could collect at least 90 percent of any oil spilled in the event of a well blowout.” These sorts of claims have raised eyebrows among advocates and scientists who study offshore oil drilling — they aren’t just unbelievable, they’re laughably, outrageously impossible. NPR’s Richard Harris cuts through Shell’s spin, and explains what these numbers really mean:

“They have a miniscule number of boats compared to what was available in the Gulf of Mexico,” [Peter Van Tuyn, and environmental lawyer in Anchorage] says, and in the Gulf, “they didn’t have to deal with the extreme weather conditions that we’ve got in the Arctic.” High winds are the norm, and sea ice is always a possible hazard, “and yet they [Shell] claim they can collect as much as 95 percent.”

Merrell says the company has made no such claim. Instead, he says, the oil company’s plan is to confront 95 percent of the oil out in the open water, before it comes ashore. That doesn’t mean responders can collect what they encounter.

“Because the on-scene conditions can be so variable, it would be rather ridiculous of us to make any kind of performance guarantee,” Merrell says.

While discussing the same issue with the Associated Press, Shell PR folks take another word out for a spin, and even try to blame “opposition groups” for this confusion:

Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said opposition groups are purposely mischaracterizing Shell’s oil spill response plan. The plan does not claim Shell can clean up 90 percent of an oil spill, he said.

“We say in our plan we expect to ‘encounter’ 90 percent of any discharge on site — very close to the drilling rig,” he said. “We expect to encounter 5 percent near-shore between the drilling rig and the coast. And we expect to encounter another 5 percent on shore. We never make claims about the percent we could actually recover, because conditions vary, of course.”

Where Shell plans to drill in the Arctic, those conditions include 20 foot swells, hurricane force winds, sea ice, and months of total darkness, and all without deep water ports or other infrastructure needed to mount a major oil spill response. But let’s put that aside for a moment, to make sure we’re not mischaracterizing here: Shell expects to “encounter” or “confront” 90% of the spilled oil and another 5% the company plans to — rendezvous? — with elsewhere in the ocean, while the remaining 5% Shell might — happen upon? — on shore. How much of that oil might be recovered, collected, or, you know, removed from the environment? Well, Shell says conditions vary, so making a performance guarantee would be rather ridiculous.

In the relatively calm conditions of the Gulf of Mexico, with thousands of response vessels, only a small fraction was recovered from the BP oil disaster. Despite shameful efforts to spin its announcement, a government report found that 4% of the oil was skimmed, and another 6% was burned. And as oil spill expert Rick Steiner observes, even those estimates might be too high, and burning oil isn’t really removing it from the environment: “It either went into the air as atmospheric emissions, and some of that is pretty toxic stuff, or there’s a residue from burning crude that sinks to the ocean floor, sometimes in big thick mats.”

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

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