Shell's US Arctic Policy an 'Ongoing Gamble': Greenpeace Analysis
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Image courtesy of Greenpeace

The analysis considers that the US Arctic Ocean presents almost a perfect storm of risks: a requirement for a long-term capital-intensive investment for uncertain return; a remote and uniquely challenging operating environment; ongoing court challenges; a lack of extraction and spill response infrastructure; and the spotlight of the world’s environmental organisations, the US political community and international media. Greenpeace provide the following summary of the document:

Royal Dutch Shell stands at a strategic crossroads. Its response to the reserves scandal in 2004 has been a global reserves replacement hunt through a programme of relentless capital expenditure. This search included an investment in US Arctic Ocean leases in the mid-2000s that dwarfed other companies’ spending.

Shell’s US offshore Arctic plans have been a failure despite capital expenditure, to date, in excess of $5bn. Following a 2012 drilling season beset by multiple operational failings and a subsequent ‘pause’ in the company’s Arctic programme, Shell announced, on 30 January 2014, a forced reversal of its intention to return to the Chukchi Sea in the summer of 2014.

The main factor cited by Shell for its decision to pause its offshore Arctic drilling programme yet again was a decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On 22 January 2014, the court found in favour of Alaska Native and conservation organisations in their challenge to the environmental analysis underlying the US government’s decision to sell leases, including those owned by Shell, in the Chukchi Sea. The plaintiffs have sought to have the leases invalidated. Even if that does not occur, it is likely that the government will be forced to carry out a new environmental analysis, which could delay Shell’s exploration in the Chukchi Sea by several years.

Investors in IOCs are increasingly questioning allocation of shareholder capital to high cost, high risk projects such as offshore Arctic drilling against an industry backdrop of flat share prices and declining returns on equity even through a period of sustained $100/barrel oil prices.2 Shell’s January 2014 profit warning –  the company’s first in 10 years – was attributed in part to “high exploration costs”.3 Despite increasingly vocal shareholder calls for greater capital discipline, Shell remains committed, at least publicly, to the high cost, high risk US Arctic Ocean.

Significant concerns remain regarding Shell’s preparedness and capabilities for responding to a major incident. In reviewing the company’s 2014 exploration plan and operating plan, one of the relevant regulatory agencies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), raised a number of significant questions. Several of these queries relate to contractor oversight – the source of many of the problems that arose in 2012 and an unwelcome echo of the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Shell’s response to these questions and its public statements do not evidence serious recognition of the problems in 2012 or a concerted effort to improve.

As Ben Van Beurden, the new CEO of Shell, prepares to deliver his vision for the future of the company and to set its strategic priorities, he and investors must carefully balance any focus on reserves replacement ratio with the potential financial impact of the short and long-term risks inherent in any project.

The US Arctic Ocean presents almost a perfect storm of risks [mentioned above] In this context, investors must scrutinise Shell’s assessment of such risks and the company’s ability to mitigate and manage them in order to determine whether the potential return provides sufficient justification to continue. Questions for investors to ask Shell on these issues are suggested at the end of each chapter and brought together in the conclusion of the document.

FROZEN FUTURE 'Shell’s ongoing gamble in the US Arctic' can be downloaded at:



Maritime Reporter September 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Captain of Ill-fated El Faro was Known as Trusted Mariner

The captain of the ill-fated cargo ship that sank in a hurricane off the Bahamas with no survivors last week was an experienced and highly trusted mariner who had spent a lifetime on the water,

Cordero Reconfirmed as FMC Commissioner

Mario Cordero was reconfirmed today as a U.S. Federal Maritime Commissioner.   Cordero joined the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) as a Commissioner on June 3,

Chiarello: TOTE Continues Support to El Faro Families

Anthony Chiarello, President & CEO of TOTE, owner of the cargo ship presumed to have sunk with 33 mariners aboard last week amid Hurricane Joaquin, issued a statement


Friendship to Green Ships

Korea and Denmark both have ambitious national plans for a transition to greener and more energy efficient economies.    The Danish-South Korean Green Growth Alliance met for roundtable talks.

EfficienSea2 Rolls out Maritime Cloud

The Danish-led e-navigation project, EfficienSea2, got one step closer to being launched when a core element of the project – Maritime Cloud – was debated by a

Collision Course with a Hurricane: How Doomed US Ship Met its End

The ill-fated U.S.-flagged El Faro cargo ship sunk by Hurricane Joaquin was sailing at near full speed into the center of the storm before it lost propulsion amid mountainous waves and brutal winds,

Arctic Operations

Eni Arctic Service Rig Extension Okayed

Italian oil company Eni has received permission from Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority to extend the use of a service rig on its troubled Arctic Goliat oil field offshore Norway until Nov.

Northern Fleet to Conduct Anti-terrorist Exercises

The sailors of the Northern Fleet will conduct anti-terrorism exercises at Novaya Zemlya. During the exercise, the coast will be a landing. The landing will

Demands for Icebreaker Tours Spiral

Plans to terminate commercial tours to the North Pole on the nuclear-powered icebreakers of the Atomflot company in 2016 have surged the demand for these tours.

Offshore Energy

Seadrill Hopes to See Market Turn in 2017

Offshore rig driller Seadrill is facing another two years in the doldrums but hopes the international rig market could turn around in 2017.   Rig rates have more

Oil Spill Statfjord North Sea Field - Statoil

Loading of tankers suspended, unclear when it will resume. Oil spilled into the North Sea during the loading of a tanker at Norway's Statfjord field on Thursday, operator Statoil said.

MacGregor Wins Deck Machinery Order in China

MacGregor, part of Cargotec, has signed contracts with Chinese shipyard Guangzhou Shunhai Shipyard Ltd to deliver anchor handling/towing winch packages for five

Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.8200 sec (1 req/sec)