At long last, Shell is ready to drill in the Arctic. Having piloted its vessels into position (which, for some reason, are adorned like this), the company asked the Department of the Interior for final clearance to proceed. And Interior acquiesced, in part, allowing them to drill introductory holes. From the Financial Times:
Ken Salazar, the US interior secretary, said Shell would be allowed to begin work on a well in the Chukchi Sea off the north-west coast of Alaska, as long as it did not drill into any oil-bearing rocks. …
The preliminary permit allows Shell to drill down to about 1,400 feet, or about a quarter of the way towards the potential reservoir it is targeting.
After getting the OK, Shell promptly drilled a hole in the bottom of a boat, the crew running around in circles flailing their arms as “Yakety Sax” blared from loudspeakers.
Or, anyway, we wouldn’t be surprised if that happened. Shell’s Arctic excursion has been pretty inept so far. The company has been unable to get its containment vessel to work, which is why Interior didn’t grant a full OK.
It is still being delayed by problems with the Arctic Challenger, the first of its kind as an oil spill containment vessel. The US Coast Guard has raised concerns about its safety, including its fire prevention systems and the risk that its equipment would make it vulnerable to capsizing during a storm.
Shell and the Coast Guard had talked about giving the Arctic Challenger its final tests this week, but Mr Salazar said that was “probably four or five days away”.
Yeah, maybe we shouldn’t use flammable vessels as oil containment ships.
Not everyone is as pessimistic about the enterprise, or as confident as we are that somehow Shell will drill up, poking a hole in a low-hanging cloud.
Pete Slaiby, the vice-president of Shell Alaska, described the move as “extremely exciting”.
Extremely exciting indeed! Nothing has ever gone wrong with drilling offshore and also BP is on the Gulf Coast cleaning up Deepwater Horizon oil stirred up by Isaac.
Rest assured, Interior will not let anything bad happen.
“We are holding Shell’s feet to the fire,” Mr Salazar said.
The feet, soaked in spilled oil and rum, burst into flame.