‘Polar Pioneer’ leaves Seattle. Detained activists to pay $500 fine each
- Exploration & Production
The Shell-operated Polar Pioneer drilling rig which will be drilling for oil in the Chukchi Sea, offshore Alaska, has left the Port of Seattle and is now being towed to its drilling location.
The departure of the Transocean-owned drilling unit on Monday morning local time did not go as planned for Shell as environmental activists in kayaks created a blockade trying, if not to prevent the rig from leaving, then at least to delay it.
During the protest yesterday Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA said: “Shell wants to haul its 40,000 ton Arctic destroyer to Alaska as soon as possible, but these courageous individuals are saying, ‘Shell No.’ Every minute that brave protesters can delay Shell’s Arctic drilling plans is another chance for President Obama to reconsider his disastrous approval of oil drilling in Alaska. The President’s decision on Arctic drilling will be a dealbreaker for his climate legacy, but it’s not too late for him to stop this catastrophe before it starts.”
Safety zone violation
The U.S. Coast Guard detained 24 people who violated the 500-yard safety zone established around the Polar Pioneer, Monday morning, local time.
The individuals were transported to Coast Guard Base Seattle at Pier 36, issued notices of violation that include a $500 fine and released with their equipment.
“The Coast Guard and our agency partners are committed to maintaining the integrity of navigable waterways and protecting the safety of the maritime public,” said Capt. Joe Raymond, commander of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, in Seattle. “Individuals were detained after violating the established safety zone but there were no reports of injuries and we encourage anyone on the water to make safety their number one priority.”
Below is a video of the protests as shared by Greenpeace:
More protests ahead?
Coast Guard said it would continue to enforce the safety zone around the Polar Pioneer’s transit north into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Planned protest activity is expected along the way and the Coast Guard will continue to manage waterway safety specifically commercial traffic within the shipping lanes.
On April 28, the Coast Guard established 100-yard safety zones around Arctic drilling and support vessels while moored or anchored, and a 500-yard safety zone while transiting to allow maximum use of the waterway by all users consistent with safe navigation. Coast Guard officials can seek a maximum civil penalty of $40,000 for each entry into the zone or day the individuals violated the zone.
Shell plans to spend $1 billion dollars for its drilling campaign in Alaska this summer, hoping to uncover what are believed to be vast oil reserves under the seabed of the Chukchi Sea. For that, the company will use the Polar Pioneer and the Noble Discoverer drillship. Shell plans to carry out drilling operations with both units, 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.
Below is a gallery of the Polar Pioneer sail away and protests, as shared by Greenpeace on Flickr:
Offshore Energy Today Staff