Shell Oil will discontinue drilling for oil off the coast of Alaska during the summer of 2013. According to Marilyn Heiman, Director of the U.S. Arctic Program of Pew Trusts, “[Shell] had some safety and management challenges that I don’t think they had fully thought through.”
Shell, along with every other oil company out there, has a lot to learn about drilling in the Arctic Ocean. I’m no expert, but in my opinion, the first thing they need to learn is respect.
It’s not that people who work for Royal Dutch Shell believe they know everything; just everything important. It’s not that they ignore the facts; just the ones they don’t like. You know which facts I’m talking about: the inconvenient truths.
What they lack is an attitude of respect, an acknowledgement that they’re not the ultimate decision makers. Their attitude lacks a groundedness in humility. For the record, I doubt their ability to learn humility. It will be difficult, so long as they believe themselves to be masters of their own universe.
The only thing to fear is the lack of fear itself
Someone once explained the concept of the fear of God to me in a way that I found very easy to understand, so I’d like to share it with you. The explanation was that, just as a person exerts him or herself beyond what is usual on behalf of their parents (because of the innate desire to please them), so should a person run to do what’s expected by God. This attitude reflects an acceptance of our place in the Universe. Respect based upon humility in no way denigrates us. It demonstrates, rather, an awakened sensibility.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I have zero desire to convert anyone. That’s not what this is about. But I am trying to explain why Royal Dutch Shell will never drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean safely and responsibly.
Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan points out that Russia is pursuing Arctic oil exploration very eagerly, but with little thought given to the environmental consequences. Throwing caution to the wind, in the face of enormous potential for danger and damage, is not merely stupid. It bespeaks an attitude born of contempt for powers far greater than our own.
Happily ever after?
So what exactly happened that has so badly thrown Shell off schedule?
According to the Alaska Dispatch,
The conical drill rig Kulluk … being towed through the turbulent waters of the Gulf of Alaska, was separated in late December from its tow vessels…
This resulted in its being banged up against the rocky shore of Sitkalidak Island for six days. In addition,
… the Noble Discoverer has been docked in Seward [AK] since November after it had to be towed to port, due to a problem with its propulsion system.
If these two incidents have been sufficient to scuttle the entire 2013 drilling season, what on earth would a serious accident do? What level of redundancy would be required in order to avert a full-scale shutdown of operations? How can that level be achieved when a key piece of equipment, a containment dome, never made it as far as Alaska because it was damaged during testing off the coast of Washington?
I think I already know how this story ends. Do you?
–Vicki Lipski, Transition Voice