Shell’s giant oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer moored at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 on Thursday, after being towed from the Port of Los Angeles, amid protests organised by local environmental activists, the Port of Seattle Authority reports.
Further seaborne protests are planned for Saturday, when the so-called kayaktivists will take to the water, and a land protest is set for Monday, intended to prevent Shell from using the Terminal 5 to moor its Arctic rigs when not in use.
Back in February 2015, the Port of Seattle signed a lease with Foss Maritime to use Terminal 5 to supply and service vessels that are part of Shell’s Arctic oil exploration fleet.
However, earlier this month, Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) said that Port of Seattle needs an additional permit if it wants to lease its Terminal 5 to serve as a mooring dock for Shell’s rigs.
The Port of Seattle decided to appeal the City of Seattle’s demand for the additional permit, saying that the port is concerned about the City changing its long-standing permit requirements, and that the ”appeal hearing should not be viewed as hostile to the City of Seattle.”
The Port Commission also directed the Port CEO to send a letter to Foss Maritime, asking that the company abide by the current City of Seattle regulations.
The US Department of Interior granted Shell a ”conditional” approval for oil explorations in the Arctic this week, but the Anglo-Dutch oil major still needs to get clearance from the US federal government and the state of Alaska before the start of the operations.
Shell proposes the drilling of up to six wells within the Burger Prospect, located in approximately 140 feet of water in the Chukchi Sea, about 70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright. Shell will conduct its operations using the drillship M/V Noble Discoverer and the semi-submersible drilling unit Transocean Polar Pioneer, with each vessel providing relief-well capability for the other. The two drilling units and their supporting vessels will depart the Chukchi Sea at the conclusion of each exploration drilling season.