Shell cuts losses, abandons Arctic drilling

Posted on 28 September 2015

WWF welcomes decision to cease exploration in offshore Alaska
WWF welcomed a decision today by Royal Dutch Shell to abandon efforts to drill in the Chukchi Sea, off the coast of Alaska.

WWF has long opposed drilling in this Arctic region, where a spill would have enormous impacts on wildlife, fisheries and local people.

"Shell's experience illustrates that further investments in oil development in the Arctic are not worth the risk to Arctic life and livelihoods", said Alexander Shestakov, Director of WWF’s Global Arctic Programme.

"We hope this will provide a reality check to other companies considering the unpredictable proposition of Arctic drilling, and that investors will transition their funds instead toward low-carbon solutions."

Shell’s previous attempts to drill in the Chukchi Sea ended badly, from damaged vessels to malfunctioning safety equipment to an on board fire. Most notably, Shell lost control of its drilling rig in January 2013 while towing it from Alaska to Seattle for maintenance. The rig grounded on a pristine island in the Gulf of Alaska.

Previously: Shell again intends to drill off Alaska, despite mishaps

The announcement comes weeks after Arctic nations, including the US, pledged to cooperate on ambitious climate actions at December's international climate negotiations in Paris.

“We must stop expending resources and time seeking to exploit fossil fuels from the most hostile and remote places on the planet and risking irreversible environmental damage”, said Brad Ack, the Senior Vice President for Oceans at WWF-US.
Waves crash over the conical drilling unit Kulluk where it sits aground on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island, Alaska
© Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg