Saturday, July 4, 2015

"Shell! Shell! the Gang's All Here!"

Shell's Arctic Invasion Force is gathering in Unalaska, last chance to top off the fuel tanks, pick up a six-pack and a bag of ice before transiting  another 1,000 miles north to the Chukchi Sea. Latest A.I.S. (Automatic Identification System) plot on MarineTraffic show more than half of Shell's Arctic fleet is in the City of Unalaska, Port of Dutch Harbor, on Friday evening (7-3).

Vessels include:
•  Transocean Polar Pioneer - Modular Offshore Drilling Unit
•  Ocean Wave
•  Tor Viking II, Anchor Handling Supply Tug (AHST)
•  Barbara Foss
•  Corbin Foss
•  Nordica, and
•  Fennica (Finnish Ice Handling Tug with lady Master.) These identical twins powered from Finland to Alaska via Panama Canal, passing through the Canal early last month.

The Polar icebreakers Nordica and Fennica are being prepared for an ice management operation in the Chukchi Sea.  While the crew has been mobilizing the vessels, authorities have been conducting their inspections and stakeholders have gotten acquainted with the operation.

Fennica was last visited by representatives of Alaska Natives who were given a tour of the vessels and a presentation of the planned operation. Both Fennica and Nordica are equipped with catalytic converters. Together with Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel - fuel these vessels exhaust fumes are well below the limits for sensitive Arctic areas as set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

•  Ocean Wind
•  Nanuq
•  Ross Choust

The AHST Aiviq departed Friday for the Chukchi Sea, while the Noble Drillship, Noble Discover was last reported off Kyuquot BC on Tuesday, heading for Unalaska.

Shell's Plan 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), formerly Minerals Management Services, re-organized following the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, approved Shell's operating plan, Revision 2, in March, detailing the events planned by Shell in the Chukchi Sea.

Among dozens of areas of concern, details of resources and facilities and their impact on water quality, air contamination, and impact on whales, dolphins, and other fisheries. The report is detailed down to the amount of garbage, waste water; even gray water from toilets and showers.

The Plan calls for the drilling of 6 exploratory wells, yellow in diagram above, three each by the Polar Pioneer and Noble Discoverer, and vacate the Chukchi Sea at the end of October, 2015.

Helicopters will be used extensively to ferry personnel to Wainwright and Barrow from the drill platforms. You may recall that during the ill-fated 2012 drilling season, "Shell had hired PHI, a helicopter company that it had long used in the Gulf of Mexico. As the weather worsened, the helicopters were often unable to make the trip. 

"They had no de-icing equipment, and their pilots were unfamiliar with the Arctic." (New York Times Magazine, Dec. 30, 2014)

I urge you to download and read the full report  [pdf 4.08MB].

Rest assured, the snooze media will never report this information to you.

Major Oil Spill

Alarmingly, the plan acknowledges a 75% chance of a major oil spill, which:

•  Could result in the deaths of large numbers of polar bears.
•  Could result in many thousands of seals, especially ringed seal pups, dying from oil exposure.
•  Could decimate bird populations and result in population-level effects for most marine and coastal bird species that would take more than three generations to recover.
•  Could kill 60,000 brant and have major impacts on the Pacific flyway brant population.
•  Could result in "large-scale mortality" for murres, puffins, kittiwakes, auklets, and shearwaters.

"But as the Deepwater Horizon incident has demonstrated, rare accidents can occur. Each resource section in the 2015 Second SEIS (BOEM, 2015a) analyzes potential effects of large (.1,000 bbl) or very large (.150,000 bbl) oil spills. In the 2015 Second SEIS (BOEM, 2015), BOEM created a hypothetical scenario covering exploration and development activities occurring over a 77 year period.

"According to this scenario, there is a 75% chance of one or more large spills (>1,000bbl) occurring over the 77 year period; however, the data show that a large spill in the relatively short exploration phase of this period is statistically unlikely (see Appendix A, Section A-4.1.4)."   (BOEM Environmental Plan,  p. 34)

Despite the potential for disaster, BOEM rushed through the process to approve the plan so Shell could start drilling. Such an event will ruin President Obama's legacy.


This graphic details the resources - Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU,) anchor handling supply tugs, ice management tugs, aircraft (for crews transfers to and from MODU's to the "Man Camps" in Wainright and Point Barrow - along with spill containment and miscellaneous water craft.


Wainwright and Barrow Man Camps, Wiley Post - Will Rogers Memorial Airport.
Shell is building two "Man Camps," one at Wainright and a smaller facility at Barrow.

Graciously, Shell is adding onto the existing airport terminal in Barrow, to facilitate increased passenger services. Drilling crews, technicians, and other personnel will use this gateway to Fairbanks, Anchorage thence to Seattle.

Alaska Airlines provides regular service to Barrow, along with a handful of regionals, like Ryan Air.

Climate Change

Earth to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK): While you and your congressional cohorts believe Climate Change is an unscientific hoax, scientists over at Shell Oil acknowledge it as scientific fact.

" ¶ 3.1.1 Climate Change A thorough scientific examination of climate change in the Arctic is provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fifth assessment synthesis report (IPCC, 2013) and the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA, 2005).

"The two reviews offer the most comprehensive compilation of information available on climate change, agreeing that the Arctic is experiencing variations that are accelerating faster than previously realized (Karcher et al., 2010). Other research concurs the Arctic is undergoing a rapid transition, including surface warming (affecting cloudiness) and changes in the cryosphere-the frozen water part of the Earth system that includes sea ice (Matthes, Rinke, and Dethloff, 2009). See Section 3.1.9 of the 2015 Second SEIS for more information on Climate Change." (BOEM Environmental Plan, p. 29)

Further discussion of Climate Change is found later in the BOEM Environmental Plan in ¶ 4.1.1, pp. 75.

Indeed Sen. Inhofe published "The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future." Moreover, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently scolded Pope Francis "to stay out of the ongoing debate over global warming."

A Class Act Statesman.

Final thought:  two months after BOEM approved Shell's Arctic Drilling Plan, a major spill ruined the beaches of Santa Barbara.

See Also:
•  Face to Face with Noble Discoverer
•  Float-off Polar Pioneer

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