Shell stumbles

Every move Shell makes in the company’s drive to extract oil from the Arctic seas is watched under a magnifying glass. They have spent billions of dollars on lawyers and technology in their attempt to satisfy legal and technical obstacles, many of which are so strict and so arcane as to defy logic. And as of Saturday, July 14, all those billions might have just was well have been spent partying in Amsterdam. The grounding of the Noble Discoverer is not a disaster in the ecological or even maritime sense. There most likely is very little damage to the ship. Maybe none. But this is the exact sort of lapse in attention which caused the Exxon Valdez to run up on Bligh Reef. Was somebody on watch busy with Facebook? Nobody looked out a porthole to notice the vessel’s position had changed? No Shell worker on shore looked out their hotel window and said “Whoa!”

Somebody’s head is about to be separated from his body. Or her body. So much effort and treasure has been expended to get to the point where twenty vessels are in Dutch Harbor ready to advance to the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to begin drilling test wells.

Greenpeace doesn’t have to say a thing. Shell has said it all.