Activists from Greenpeace attempted to block Royal Dutch Shell’s icebreaker from leaving port in Portland, Oregon, in the hopes of derailing Shell’s Arctic drilling plans.
The damaged icebreaker was seeking repairs in Portland after having been turned back from Alaska a few weeks ago. Shell is positioning its two drilling ships in the Chukchi Sea for drilling this summer. The Anglo-Dutch company has received all the necessary permits from the federal government but is not allowed to drill into oil-bearing zones until its icebreaker is on hand. The repairs to the icebreaker threaten to delay drilling. Related: Top 6 Most Powerful Women In Oil And Gas
But the Greenpeace activists hoped to further throw a wrench in Shell’s plans. A group of 13 climbers from the environmental group rappelled off the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, attempting to erect an “aerial blockade” to prevent Shell’s icebreaker from leaving the city. They were joined by a team of “kayaktavists” who paddled out to blockade the Willamette River. The icebreaker was scheduled to depart on July 29, but did not leave. Greenpeace says the climbers have supplies to last a few days dangling from the bridge. Related: Where In The World Is The Shale Gas Revolution?
On July 30, the icebreaker again tried to depart, but as of midday, it had turned back to port in the face of the blockade.
Meanwhile, oil companies are hoping to keep their slim hopes of eventually drilling in the Canadian Arctic alive. Several companies had obtained concessions for blocks off of Canada’s Arctic coast, but none have moved forward with serious drilling plans. The leases expire in 2020, and with little prospect of putting together a drilling campaign before then, the industry is lobbying the Canadian government to allow the licenses to be extended. Related: North-American LNG Could Weaken Russia’s Grip On Europe
Imperial Oil, ExxonMobil, and BP have hopes of eventually drilling an exploratory well in the Beaufort Sea, but for now are focused on pressuring the Canadian government into extending their license for another seven years. If the government doesn’t offer an extension, the companies could forfeit a portion of their $341 million deposit.
The Beaufort Sea could hold 1.36 billion barrels of oil.
With oil companies on the sidelines in the Beaufort Sea, Shell remains the lone operator looking to drill in North America’s portion of the Arctic Ocean. But, with a short window to drill before sea ice returns, Greenpeace activists hope contribute to yet another failed drilling seasons for Shell.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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