By Thomas Gaist
13 May 2015
The Obama White House and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced Monday that Royal Dutch Shell has received US government authorization to resume its drilling operations in the Arctic waters of the Chukchi Sea, near Alaska.
Drilling in the area was halted three years ago, after Shell’s activities produced near-disasters, including the running aground of a drilling rig and malfunctions of important safety-related machinery.
Renewed drilling could begin as early as June. The oil transnational is planning to drill half a dozen new “exploratory” sites while spending more than $1 billion on its Arctic venture this year.
Shell has already dispatched a vessel, the “Polar Pioneer,” to begin initial preparations. Reports Tuesday indicated that environmentalist groups planned to confront the vessel as it entered port in Seattle, Washington.
Environmental activist groups are being presented in the corporate media as the main voices of opposition to the latest move to open the Arctic to unrestrained economic and military development.
Shell’s proposals themselves are “risky and ill-conceived,” an executive at environmental group Oceana told the Wall Street Journal. US government approval for resumed drilling was “based on a rushed and incomplete environmental and safety review,” according to research conducted by Earthjustice.