Royal Dutch Shell: About to start drilling in Arctic offshore waters

This report is part of our former “Harmful Cases” documentation, where we continuously and concisely recorded human rights violations, violations of international law or environmental destruction caused by companies.

Environmental Damages in Alaska

As global warming—ironically—opens up parts of the Arctic waters to drilling rigs which used to be inaccessible due to thick layers of ice, Royal Dutch Shell is about to start oil drillings in the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea North off the Alaskan coast.

Drilling in Arctic waters is bitterly opposed by environmental groups and some Alaska Native groups, who contend oil skimmers and other mechanical cleanup devices will not work in waters that contain ice, from slush to icebergs. Moreover, drilling may cause an intensification of greenhouse gas release in this environmentally complex and fragile region of the world. The existing environment of the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea in which its drilling is to be conducted, is one of, if not the, most ecologically pristine and sensitive environments in which Shell has ever operated globally.

This raises serious concerns about Shell’s trustworthiness in the project given the corporation’s long history of reported human rights violations and environmental hazards. According to a report of the Alaska Wilderness League, Shell has one of the worst safety records of any company operating in either the United States or the United Kingdom. A review of 2007 data found that Shell had the highest mortality rate of any large western oil company in the U.S. The company’s North Sea operations have one of the worst safety records of any oil company operating in the UK, violating safety rules 25 times from 2005 to 2011 and spending at least £1 million ($1.5 million) in fines and legal costs.

By 2011 revenues, the Dutch-British multinational oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell is the second-largest corporation in the World. IN early Septmeber 2012, it was granted a permit to start drilling preparations in the Arctic by the Obama administration.

Please find further information via the following links:

Alaska Dispatch

Alaska Wilderness League

Huffington Post


GAO report

Alaska Wilderness League report