Alaska

US: Salvage operations begin on Shell's Arctic oil drilling rig Kulluk

Kulluk and life rafts: Arial survey of Kulluk and life rafts - U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Painter.Kulluk and life rafts: Arial survey of Kulluk and life rafts - U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Painter.The Shell Corporation oil drilling rig Kulluk remains grounded, pounded by rough seas. Salvage teams have landed on the vessel and carried out an initial examination and assessment. There are worries that release of contaminants may foul the sensitive coastline which includes the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge containing two endangered species, and a cultural and archeologically significant site - Refuge rock. Greenpeace alledges Shell’s 2013 Arctic drilling program is 'on the brink' after a series of technical problems and failures with equipment this year.

There are approximately 143,000 gallons of diesel and 12,000 gallons of hydraulic oil on board the Kulluk, an aging drill rig built in 1983. Weighing almost 28,000 tonnes, the rig had been due for scrapping before Shell bought it in 2005 and the company has since spent $292 million to upgrade the vessel.

It has already been revealed that Shell was moving the drilling rig from Alaska to Seattle, Washington to avoid about $6 million in property taxes that would be due on January 1st.

Kulluk and life rafts

Kulluk and life rafts

Image from Flickr - Jan 3, 2013 - Arial survey of Kulluk and life rafts - U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Painter. Caption: Three life rafts (two pictured) sit on the beach adjacent to the conical drilling unit Kulluk, 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2012.

U.S.: Shell risked moving drill ship in storm to avoid paying millions in taxes

It seems the Shell Oil Company decision to move the oil drilling platform ship, Kulluk, to Seattle was corporate greed to try and avoid paying Alaskan State taxes. If the rig was in Alaska on January 1st, about $6 millions of taxes would be due to the state of Alaska.

U.S.: Grounding of Shell drilling platform highlights dangers of Arctic Oil Drilling

Kulluk grounded on Kodiak Island: Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg/U.S. Coast GuardKulluk grounded on Kodiak Island: Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg/U.S. Coast GuardShell has plans for drilling several exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas area off the north coast of Alaska. The grounding of the Kulluk circular oil drilling ship on Sitkalidak Island while being towed in heavy seas must call into question whether safety measures by Shell and Coast Guard response capabilities are adequate to allow Arctic drilling to proceed.It now seems that Shell risked moving drill ship in storm to avoid paying millions in taxes, and their weather judgement to move the rig is questionable. Shell and the US Coast Guard have started salvage operations on the stranded drilling rig.

Initial approval for oil drilling by Shell Oil was given by the Obama administration in August 2012 despite opposition by numerous conservation groups and a petition of over a million US citizens. To preserve a safe climate based upon the simple climate maths of how much fossil fuels we can afford to burn, we need to Go Fossil Free through divestment, start taxing carbon and leave the oil reserves beneath the Arctic alone.

Related: Greenpeace - Save The Arctic | Sierra Club - Chill the Drills: Protect America's Arctic! | Center for Biological Diversity - Arctic Oil Development | Alaska Despatch - U.S.: Shell’s grounded drilling rig raises questions | DeSmogBlog - Shell’s Kulluk Rig Grounding Proves Folly of Arctic Oil Drilling, Again

Background: ClimateIMC July 2011 - Smears on integrity of Polar wildlife scientist a prelude to Arctic Oil Drilling | London Indymedia Sept 2012 - Activists 'brick up' Shell HQ as the Arctic melts | Indymedia Ireland Sept 2012 - 1,600 billion - Massive scale of oil giveaway revealed in Shell to Sea report | Sourcewatch on Shell

Location of Kulluk grounding in Alaska

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Location of Kulluk grounding in Alaska

Image from Wilderness Society media Release

Methane and CO2 in thawing Arctic permafrost a climate tipping point

Artcile originally published at Indybay.org: A new report on permafrost slowly thawing in the Arctic creating methane and carbon dioxide emissions highlights an approaching dangerous climate tipping point. There is a huge amount of organic matter frozen in permafrost, estimated to contain 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon, twice the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere. And it is starting to melt. With no way to stop it except indirectly through us reducing the rate of global warming by reducing our own emissions.

"The release of carbon dioxide and methane from warming permafrost is irreversible: once the organic matter thaws and decays away, there is no way to put it back into the permafrost," said lead author Kevin Schaefer, from the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center.

"Anthropogenic emissions' targets in the climate change treaty need to account for these emissions or we risk overshooting the 2°C maximum warming target," he added.

The report - Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost (PDF)
- was published by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and
launched at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) at Doha on November 27. (See media release)

Smears on integrity of Polar wildlife scientist a prelude to Arctic Oil Drilling

A misconduct complaint has been filed against the US Interior Department on behalf of an Arctic scientist who has been under investigation since the start of the year. The scientist, Dr. Charles Monnett, PhD, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) formerly known as the Minerals Management Service, has not been told why he is under investigation or what the allegations are against him, although a record of interview from February this year seemed to question his scientific integrity by focussing on a 2006 scientific paper co-written with Jeffrey Gleason - Observations of mortality associated with extended open-water swimming by polar bears in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea.

Related: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility - Arctic Scientist protests witch hunt on polar bear paper

Drilling for oil in Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea

Drilling for oil in Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea

Image from Arctic Ocean Forever - Offshore Drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas

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