Oil giants ‘not equipped’ for Arctic spills

Greenpeace have suggested that oil giants like Shell are not prepared for dealing with spills in the Arctic. Ben Ayliffe, Head of Campaigns for Greenpeace Arctic Programme, made the claim […]

Register now!

By Taryn Nixon

Greenpeace have suggested that oil giants like Shell are not prepared for dealing with spills in the Arctic.

Ben Ayliffe, Head of Campaigns for Greenpeace Arctic Programme, made the claim at an Environmental Audit Committee hearing discussing protecting the polar region. Mr Ayliffe told the committee he felt there was a large gap between policy and technical capability when dealing with spills.

In 2012 one of Shell’s rigs called Kulluk broke its tow line and was left stranded off the western coast of Alaska. Mr Ayliffe suggested that something similar could happen right now.

“From what we know of Shell’s plans for next year, they are still going to rely on the vessels that either went wrong in 2012 or still haven’t been tested in Arctic conditions.

“They are going into this with no real proof that in the worst case scenario, they would ever be able to deal with anything.”

Mr Ayliffe added there was no evidence or substantial research being done, to suggest companies were capable of cleaning up spills similar in scale to the Gulf of Mexico disaster back in 2010.

Shell responded by saying if the company felt the risk was not manageable, they would not drill.

Edwin Verdonk, Vice President, Europe, Russia and CIS of Shell said: “In Alaska the plan is to have within 60 minutes the first reaction to an oil spill if it was to occur, with the right kit.”