Shell VP expects to spill oil in the Arctic

By December 21, 2012Ocean News

“We are going to spill some oil in the Arctic, but don’t worry. It isn’t large enough to impact people’s subsistence”.

<p That's what Pete Slaiby, vice president of Shell Alaska told the media last November. Well, thanks Pete …we can sleep like a baby now!


Let’s talk about something else concerning this situation. Ok, we are in an energy crisis. So, if you want the power, you have to take all the oil you can find. And Alaska has loads of it, but it is in the ocean floor, about 427m deep. That’s a big problem, not only because it is really expensive to do such a massive operation, but because it is very difficult not to spill some oil during the drilling.

Shell is expecting to find enough oil to make billions and they are investing tons of their own money in drilling rights, engineers and lawyers. Yes, lawyers. And why do they need them? Because the drilling of oil is next to the ANWR, it means, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

So, if they spill some oil, it could spill into the refuge, but can you imagine the effects of doing so in such an unique and vulnerable area? Remember how people reacted to the BP oil spill? That incident woke up the fury of the world. So you could imagine what would happen if another spill like the one in the Gulf of Mexico would happen any time soon?

There is a pressing need for Shell to drill now because the ice in Alaska is thinner than ever, so it is the perfect time to start drilling.

Let’s go back to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. How much time did it take to stop the leak? What were the consequences? And that was in warm water! Can you imagine the difficulties to do the same in the Arctic, where the water is literally freezing cold? It’s just mental.

It won’t only affect the environment itself, but also, despite of what Mr. Slaiby says, it will affect the local communities that depend on this amazing ocean. I’m talking about locals who use traditional ways of living, on which you can agree or not, but are sustainable, and are their only way of living.

The Inupiat community fears that this would change the migration route of the marine mammals because the drilling is just in the middle of the path, and they won’t be able to hunt them to survive.


We didn’t lose this war. Shell has the permission to drill because they have pollution regulators mandated to be on their platforms. And the company has to demonstrate that they are able to control possible spills with their ship, the Arctic Challenge. And… here comes the failure! They tested their underwater equipment in September. You can read on their web about “weeks of safe, successful drilling”. Really? Look at the picture below. You are looking at Shell’s solution to cleaning up the oil. This machine is suposed to go to very deep depths to suck oil to a barge to the surface. This picture is the result of a test conducted in Puget Sound.

Arctic Challenge (Bsee)

It was suppose to take a day. Ok, here comes the result. According to, the first day, they had to repair the system that was supossed to suck out the deeper oil. The second day they had to recover a submarine that got tangled in anchors lines. And the fifth day, the underwater “vacuum system” went crazy while working, like an uncontrolled hosepipe, and went back to the sea. Hopefully, a safety buoy worked and saved from hitting the floor. This stopped Shell from continuing to drill this year. We’ll have a clean (from oil spill) Arctic for, at least, one more year. but once this clean up system is working, you know Shell will be drilling.

Did you have an oil spill near your hometown? Tell us your experience in the comments below. The more people who share their experiences, the more we can discuss how to stop non-safe oil exploration that could harm our Oceans and local communities. I can remember one, the Prestige oil spill, and I can tell that this opened the eyes of my country.

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