Royal Dutch Shell's quest to return to Arctic drilling for the first time in three years could face delays after Seattle ruled that the city's port must apply for a permit before hosting rigs.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a Democrat who has fought against new projects by coal and oil companies, threw a serious barrier in front of the waterfront when he announced the port doesn't have the right permit to allow Shell's vessels to dock at Terminal 5. He applauded the requirement by the city's planning department.
Despite months of public outcry and protests against plans to moor Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic oil drilling fleet
in the Port of Seattle, the oil giant’s ship is inching closer to the Emerald City. The Polar Pioneer, an oil rig, is currently sitting in Port Angeles, Wash., and is scheduled to arrive in Seattle later this month.
But now, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is getting in on the efforts to bar the company from turning Seattle into a home base for its latest Arctic oil-drilling scheme.
“This is an opportunity for the port and all of us to make a bold statement about how oil companies contribute to climate change, oil spills and other environmental disasters — and reject this short-term lease,” Seattle's Mayor Ed Murray said
on his website.
Murray said city planners reviewed the use of Terminal 5 as a base for the drilling fleet and found that it would violate the port’s 20−year−old shoreline land−use permit, which allows a cargo terminal on the site.
Now the City of Seattle's Department of Planning and Development has ruled the port needs to get an additional permit before allowing the oil rig repairs at terminal 5.
Shell’s presence at the Port has drawn intense criticism from environmental activists worried about oil spills in the Arctic and about climate change.
The Port has options: Seek a new permit, move ahead under the current permit or attempt to send Shell packing. A new permit could potentially allow the Port to serve Shell, but getting one could take months and the city would be in the captain’s seat.
While the price of oil has fallen over the last year, the Arctic is coveted by energy companies for its long term potential. The Arctic is estimated to contain about 20 percent of the world's undiscovered oil with
some 34 million barrels of oil in U.S. waters alone.
A Shell spokesman said the company was still reviewing the Seattle planning department's move on permit requirements.