Shell Safety Testing for Arctic Drilling Blowout Lasted for Only 2 Hours

Sunday, September 09, 2012
Shell Oil Drilling Platform Kulluk (photo: Tom Doyle, flickr)

Shell is being accused of skimping on its safety tests in the Arctic, where the oil giant hopes to begin drilling for oil off the coast of Alaska.


In preparation for setting up its drilling operations, Shell tested its oil well blowout prevention system earlier this summer. According to records obtained by the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the testing was “cursory” and brief, lasting only two hours.


PEER and other observers were surprised to learn that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which is supposed to oversee offshore drilling, had only one page of notes about Shell’s testing, indicating how little there was to it.


“I was shocked,” Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor, oil spill expert and PEER board member, told the Summit County Citizens Voice. “I was expecting 50 or 70 pages…with pressure tests, detailed engineering info, graphs…it’s a critical piece of equipment in a blow-out.” Apparently BSEE has chosen to rely on Shell to regulate itself.


Steiner added in a prepared statement for PEER: “A simple emissions test report for my car is far more rigorous than what BSEE has produced for Shell's Arctic capping stack. From this, we still don’t know that this critical piece of equipment will work if needed.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Scant Testing for Arctic Blowout Capping System (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

Environment: Watchdog Group Says Testing of Shell’s Arctic Drilling Safety Gear Was Inadequate (by Bob Berwyn, Summit County Citizens Voice)

Obama Gives Green Light to Shell Drilling for Oil in Arctic (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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