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Out to Stop Shell’s Giant Oil Rig

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 17.19.59

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 18.39.24Extracts from a Rolling Stone article by ANTONIA JUHASZ published 22 May 2015

Meet the Rappers and ‘Kayaktivists’ Out to Stop Shell’s Giant Oil Rig

…several hundred people trying to disrupt business as usual for the world’s largest oil company

Their target, Royal Dutch Shell’s 400-foot-long, 300-foot-tall offshore oil rig, dubbed the Polar Pioneer, was just out of sight in Elliott Bay, behind the terminal building. In January, Seattleites learned Shell is planning to park the rig at their port for eight months of the year, when it isn’t drilling for oil in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. Since then, a growing group of citizen-activists, elected officials and non-governmental organizations has been plotting ways to not only kick the rig out of the city, but also halt Shell’s Arctic drilling plans altogether. 

Though the Obama administration gave only a partial green light to the company’s plans earlier this month (a few more permits are still required), Shell has moved forward with the assumption that the approval is all but a done deal. The drilling rig, which arrived in Seattle on May 14, is managed and operated by Transocean, one of the companies found guilty of negligence by a U.S. district court judge for its role in the April 2010 blowout of BP’s Macondo oil well that caused the largest offshore drilling oil spill in history. The Polar Pioneer is certified to drill at ultra-deepwater depths of 25,000 feet, or nearly 7,000 feet deeper than the Deepwater Horizon was operating at the time of the BP disaster.

It was a wake-up call for many of the individuals here, and helped spur them to join the growing movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground – particularly after a U.N. panel warned in 2013 that doing so is critical to avert the worst of the climate crisis. So initiating new oil drilling now, especially in one of the most difficult places in the world to conduct such operations, makes little sense. Moreover, an offshore oil spill in the Arctic Circle could devastate the lives and livelihoods of Iňupiat, Saami and other Indigenous peoples dependent on a healthy Arctic ecosystem and the wildlife that live there – whales, polar bears, walrus, seals and hundreds of bird species.


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