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Shell’s Uninhabited Island Has A Story

By Kelsey Gobroski New Year’s Eve 2012, a Shell Oil drilling rig crashed off the shore of an uninhabited island near Kodiak. The landing site lit up on the media radar. The actual setting of the wreck was overshadowed by the fears, aspirations and politics surrounding the drilling rig. To peer into the background of these images, past the drilling rig and the news updates, “uninhabited” does not do the island justice — Sitkalidak Island has played its part in history. The island retired from public eye nearly 50 years ago, but has weathered every major boom and bust in…

Shell & Water Don’t Mix

Royal Dutch Shell’s Alaska operations could have used a dose of “local knowledge” to prevent their latest debacle: the grounding of the oil rig Kulluk. That phrase, “local knowledge,” should ring a bell for Shell. The company was the one of the largest contributors to a group opposing the restoration of Alaska’s Coastal Zone Management program. Why did Shell spend so much money to keep coastal Alaskans away from the table? Don’t they value the experience of local people along the Beaufort and Chukchi coasts? Oh, that’s right. When you’re drilling in their back yards, you only want silent partners….

Meanwhile, In Shell’s PR Office…

Following the loss of control and subsequent grounding of the Shell drilling rig, Kulluk, that company’s PR team goes to work. Sitting in PR headquarters, mostly silent, members of the PR team wracked their brains trying to find a way to at least mitigate some of the negative publicity being aimed at the corporation. Then it came. One member of the team jumped up and exclaimed, “I’ve got it! Let’s spend some money on Facebook and try to get some extra ‘Likes’ over this whole thing!” And everyone at Shell agreed. The end.   ************************************************************************************************* Ryan Marquis lives on Alaska’s…

OT: Shell Games & Hammertime

[This is an open thread.] The backspin on Shell’s latest Alaskan Coastline Enhancement Initiative has already begun, with “we’ll probably mostly skate this time” apparently the central thrust. You should also send a thank-you note to the burglar who broke into your house because, hey—no arson. Thanks, bro. Here now is some context involving Conoco’s Alaska’s US Senator Lisa Murkowski (R). Our friend Heather Aronno over at Alaska Commons produced a July 2011 NPR interview she describes as “Shell making their sales pitch for the offshore drilling that’s going so spectacularly.” “At the time, Senator Murkowski voiced concerns about the…

Shell vs. Alaska (photos)

Look at ’em. Lazy, non-taxpaying sea lions just lying about, not creating any jobs, and looking for a handout. These photos were taken late last summer on a weekend trip I took to Resurrection Bay—a place en route if a somewhat tipsy crow were flying from the Mudflats office in Anchorage to the site of this week’s Shell oil rig crash landing (see map below). By Alaskan standards, it’s not far away (Seward to Kodiak is over 300 miles). I wanted to give our readers in the Lower 48 some geographical context, as well as a sense of what an…

Drill Rig Adrift Again (Update)

“The Unified Command reports that the Kulluk is now adrift. The Kulluk is estimated to be four miles from the nearest point of land.” Last summer, Shell’s “Noble Discoverer” drill ship ran aground at Dutch Harbor—or, as a company press release phrased it, “drifted toward land and stopped very near the coast.” Clearly, it was a harbinger of things to come. Another Shell drilling rig in the Gulf of Alaska is adrift again, amid worsening weather. A crew of around 250 is trying to get control of the situation as the drilling rig is now 4 miles from land, the…