AmericasOffshorePorts and Logistics

Mayor says Shell’s fleet can’t berth in Seattle until port changes paperwork

Seattle: Shell’s contentious and protest-hounded plan to drill in the Arctic hit another snag on Monday when the mayor of Seattle said the city’s port cannot host the Dutch oil giant’s fleet without new paperwork.

All through the weeks that Shell was transporting its rigs across the Pacific and having one of them – the Polar Pioneer – fitted out in Port Angeles in Washington State, everything was based on company’s belief that it needed to be ready to move quickly once the red tape was cleared.

Now Mayor Ed Murray has said Seattle’s port needs a change of land-use permit before Shell can base much of its fleet there for six months a year when it is not being used in the Arctic waters of Alaska.

The reason, Murray said, is that city planners reviewed the use of Terminal 5, the intended berth, and found that the plan would violate the land-use permit which specifies it must be a cargo terminal.

It’s now up to the port to decide whether it wishes to apply for a new permit, which could take anything from weeks to months.

The Port of Seattle has agreed a two-year lease of the terminal to shipping company Foss Maritime, whose client is Shell.

There is also a court challenge by environmentalists who say the port should not have signed the lease with Foss until they had conducted a proper environmental review. That case is still pending.

If these hurdles are cleared, Shell plans to end its three-year break from Arctic drilling by exploring and extracting in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska.


Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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