Petroleum Screwups

These Are the Clowns Leading the Charge To Plunder the Arctic…Leaders In Technological Competence As Long As the Weather is Fine

Shell oil rig gets away

The mighty Kulluk is battered by waves as it was grounded ashore after getting away from the tow ships.

Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company has won the triple crown of petro screw-ups as the 266 foot drilling rig Kulluk broke free from it’s tow craft in a storm. After four days drifting free, the platform grounded ashore at Sitkalidak Island, an ecologically important site off the coast of Alaska. The area is home to at least two endangered species, as well as harbor seals, salmon, and sea lions.

The Kulluk’s 18 member crew was rescued by helicopter while more than 150,000 gallons of fuel and other hydrocarbon remained aboard. High seas and strong winds have prevented prevented crews from boarding even as authorities issue the usual assurances.

Although BP is currently the oil company getting the most attention for incompetence, Shell takes a back seat to no one when it comes to talking big and performing small. After years of lobbying and PR campaigns assuring the U.S. government that new technology will conquer the arctic, the company has begun it’s exploration party with two other embarrassing incidents that don’t inspire confidence among the skeptics. Such as us.

In July 2012, the 500 ft Noble Discover slipped its moorings in the Chukchi Sea and drifted ashore in the Aleutian islands. Later the ship’s engine caught on fire. Slipped its moorings? It is, like, a horse? Did Shell hire sailors and stuff to teach them how to work them big ships? Later the Coast Guard issued dozens of citations for improper operation. Noble?

Then, in September, Shell’s vaunted Arctic oil spill containment dome was “crushed like a beer can” during it’s trial run in Puget Sound, following a series of expensive “mishaps” that would have done the Three Stooges proud. Documented by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the steel dome became unlocked from it’s winches. Then a submarine became entangled in the anchorage lines. Finally, like a dying whale, the dome shot back to the surface, then sank into the 120 foot waters.

Can you say ExxonValdez?

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