San Francisco: Shell spokespeople on Wednesday brushed off Tuesday’s request from Seattle Port commissioners to delay assembling its Arctic drilling fleet in that city’s Terminal 5.
The day after the commissioners issued their surprise request at a meeting open to the public, Shell insisted its lease for the terminal is valid and pointed out that it has only a relatively brief window of opportunity to get its fleet of about 25 vessels up to Alaskan waters for exploratory drilling.
Shell is aiming to return to Arctic drilling for the first time in three years, but the mayor and the city of Seattle have said the use of their terminal as a base for drill rigs isn’t allowed under the port’s current land-use permit, which is for cargo operations.
Even as environmental protesters, including so-called kayaktivists, are gearing up to register their disapproval of Shell’s planned drilling in the Chukchi Sea, the oil company is pressing ahead.
The first of its two giant drilling platforms, the Polar Pioneer, is set to arrive in Seattle on Thursday. It should be a magnet for demonstrators despite the court restraining order Shell obtained last month against Greenpeace. The protesters have promised a “Festival of Resistance” for the weekend.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved the company’s plans for its Arctic campaign on Monday, a big boost for the Dutch oil giant. Even though it still has to get other permits from state and federal agencies, they’re believed to be formalities after BOEM’s nod.