Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is David Lawrence Only the First of Many Heads Rolling at Shell's Alaska Fiasco? - and Other Shell Items

I.  Late last week, Royal Dutch Shell PLC sacked longtime employee, David Lawrence:
David Lawrence, the executive vice president directly responsible for Alaskan operations has left the company. A Shell spokesman says that “Mr. Lawrence’s departure from Shell is by mutual consent.” Lawrence had been with Shell since 1984. His departure was first reported on the site started by longtime Shell gadfly Alfred Donovan. A year ago Lawrence had said that Shell’s planned Arctic drilling “is relatively easy.” 
So it’s fitting that he was made to answer for the disastrous Alaskan campaign which was marred by a host of delays, accidents and mishaps. The misadventure resulted in a couple of wells being started, then abandoned, and one of Shell’s rigs, the Kulluk, being damaged in a grounding near Kodiak Island. “ Shell screwed up in 2012,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar earlier this month. 
So far, the local Alaska news has largely voided any implications in his having, uh, left the company.  I predict more heads will roll at the Alaska operation, even though more information is coming out that Shell's shortcomings organizationally for the 2012 drilling debacle came from higher up in the company than from their Alaska crew.

II.  It appears Shell ignored internal advice on how to prepare for their 2012 Arctic drilling operations.

III.  The Noble Discoverer was far more poorly prepared to operate as a drill rig in Alaska's Arctic than Shell has wanted us to believe:
According to our whistleblower source, the entire rebuild and preparation was carried out at a reckless pace and the Noble Discoverer departed on its way to New Zealand without even being certified. As a consequence of the botched processes, the ancient ship repeatedly broke-down on the high seas during the move to New Zealand. Because almost everything went wrong, the well it had attempted to drill had to be abandoned before reaching its objectives so that the jinxed drilling ship could be moved to the Arctic with all speed.
IV.  Another agency may begin an investigation into Shell's Arctic mishaps:
The Coast Guard has asked federal prosecutors to consider taking action on possible violations of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) committed in the operations of Shell's Kulluk drillship, said Rear Admiral Thomas Ostebo, head of the Coast Guard in Alaska. 
Shell, which had planned to drill up to five wells offshore Alaska in 2012 and a similar number this year, has previously said it will pause its Alaska operations to regroup due to complications faced in the harsh northern environment, but it expects to resume drilling next year. 
Ostebo said he had commissioned one investigation already launched into the December 31 grounding of the Kulluk and that the Coast Guard has forwarded findings of safety and environmental violations on the Noble Discoverer, Shell's other Alaska drillship, to U.S. prosecutors for possible enforcement action.  
"Last week, I also referred a separate Kulluk investigation into potential MARPOL violations from 2012 to the Department of Justice for their review and potential follow-on action," Ostebo said at a field hearing convened by Senator Mark Begich.
Here is a video of the field hearing chaired by Sen. Begich Wednesday:

Things keep piling up.

Shell may not be back.

No comments: