Arctic drilling facts

February 29th, 2012 at 9:22 am by David Farrar

A useful article in Stuff:

drill ship Noble Discoverer is heading from New Plymouth for the Arctic, north of Alaska, to explore for what could be a super-field for giant Shell.

The Chukchi Sea off Alaska could hold the equivalent of 4 billion to 77 billion barrels of oil, but it is likely to be gas and light oil condensate. …

Shell plans to drill up to six wells in the Chukchi Sea during the next two northern summers. Noble Discoverer will drill within the Burger Prospect, which is about 90kms off the North Alaskan coast in shallow water of just 42 metres. …

Earlier this month the US Government approved Shell’s oil spill response plan for the Chukchi Sea, which was seen as a milestone on the way to offshore drilling this northern summer. The plan includes a new Arctic capping and containment system to be trialled before drilling starts.

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell was required to prepare for a “worst case” oil spill nearly five times that of their previous plan. It also needs access to a rig capable of drilling a relief well that could kill the well if needed.

In a major government caveat, Shell must also stop drilling in any hydrocarbon bearing zone 38 days before November 1, so if there was an accident, all capping, response and well-killing work could be finished in open sea before ice forms in Chukchi waters. That government move reduced the drilling window by about a third.

US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said this month that Alaskan energy resources held great promise and economic opportunity, but exploration had to be cautious and “under the strongest oversight, safety requirements and emergency response plans ever established”.

So the drilling has been signed off by the Obama administration, with extensive safety and response requirements.

The reality is is against any drilling for oil pretty much anywhere. They want it left on the ground, and for us to abandon travel which involves oil. Now that is a legitimate view, but I’d be more impressed when starts taking diesel ships to travel overseas for her Hollywood career, rather than jet planes.

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50 Responses to “Arctic drilling facts”

  1. chris (647 comments) says:

    Yes, actors are first class hypocrites when they try to tell us what to do when it comes to environmental stuff.

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  2. 2boyz (262 comments) says:

    Maybe doing the gig with Greenpeace is a way of trying to clear her conscience afterall she more than likely racks up thousands of K’s travel each year in dirty old airliners flying to acting work in the States etc. using all that dirty fuel supplied by Shell and others must make her feel pretty bad.

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  3. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    Very well said DPF… and I can confirm that – at least with regard to Green Party MP’s in 2010 – they also are opposed to oil exploration anywhere, on or offshore. In their blinkered and oversimplified world, because burning fossil fuels gives rise to greenhouse gases and global warming – which they believe to be beyond any argument – then it should stop forthwith (preferably by next Thursday) notwithstanding that at present there is neither the technology nor the resources to live anything like our current lifestyle without fossil fuel.

    Behind that of course is the philosophy that we should all return to a pre-machine age, and half the population (at least) of the world should be sacrificed so Gaia can feel better…They never seem very keen to discuss just how that population reduction would be achieved….

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  4. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    But ‘A’ listers, along with mayors, MP’s, etc are exempt from the environmental-related regimes they expect lesser mortals to put up with.

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  5. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    @ David – they actually have a policy of limiting the population of New Zealand to a sustainable number but are entirely silent on what the number is and what methods (forceable sterilisation, compelled emigration, euthanasia, one child policies….???) they would use.

    When you hate humans so much, the morning self loathing must be hard to deal with.

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  6. Manolo (13,755 comments) says:

    Every time they approach me for a donation I tell the young and naive Greenpeace guy: Sorry, I don’t give money to a terrorist organisation.

    That does the trick.

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  7. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    KiwiGreg: yes, quite so…I am sure their (non) position on details of the poplulation reduction thing is in the manual, (“Thoughts of Chairman Russel” ??) and they all rote learn it….At various times I tried to engage all of them on just how this would be achieved…it was a bit like trying to get a direct answer to the question “are you from the moonies?” years ago…

    Manolo: Excellent! I shall adopt that strategy immediately!

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  8. Mark (496 comments) says:

    Greenpeace want to stop all human activity and then saw there are no jobs and its all National Fault.

    They are the party of can’ts.

    And Lucy Lawless is a Hypocrite, see has a carbon footprint in a year bigger than I would have in a decade.

    If she was a real greenpeacer she would retire to a shack in Invercargill.

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  9. Put it away (2,878 comments) says:

    Manolo – I tell them I don’t support multinationals

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  10. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    B B B B B B But David, you silly boy, deisel ships burn the same oil that fuels jet aircraft.

    Let her sail or row.

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  11. marcw (247 comments) says:

    No, no, no… not diesel. Must be sailing ship, with cloth sails, hand sawed timbers. No solar cells (rare earth mining required), no electronics, only composting toilets on board. Totally green only – for her and the other hypocrites. We should expect to see her, oh, about once or twice a year after a return sailing. Not on TV or films though – evil electricity etc. required. Maybe she could make a horseback trek from her Auckland palace to Wellywood for the fans to reminisce on how it could have been if only she had bothered to think before she jumped on the (horse drawn) bandwagon.

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  12. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    This is Lawless talking about her V12 Merc when she sold it in 2006:

    “Yes, you can confirm that I am selling Liquid Will, my first purchase with my Xena money. It’s about as pc as the stealth bomber and uses the same jet fuel. V12, purple Mercedes, CL600. L”

    People like Lawless with their transpacific travel, their huge cars, and their giant Auckland mansions are the reason we need to explore for more oil. When it comes to carbon footprints, Lawless is part of the 1%.

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  13. andyscrase (89 comments) says:

    To put this in context, a water depth of 42 metres is about the same as the Southern North Sea which supports Jack Up Rigs, and about half of the water depth of the Northern North Sea, which has been operating safely for decades.
    The Deepwater Horizon incident occurred in thousands of metres water depth.

    For Greenpeace, it’s all about grandstanding, and for them the “Arctic” is a mythical place where Polar Bears live, the icon of the environmental movement.

    Greenpeace went off the rails years ago. Have a read of Patrick Moore’s “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout”, which is a real eye-opener as to the nature of the modern environmental movement.

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  14. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    Typical smug responses here – playing the man rather than the ball.
    Frankly I couln’t give a flying fuck whether Lawless is a hypocrite or not.
    The issue is whether Shell can safely drill in the Arctic, Greenpeace say no. Shell say they can.
    Based on recent history it seems there can be no cast iron guarantees from Shell. The US govt has asked Shell to uprate their disaster recovery plans. All I know is that they can promise the world on paper but the reality of cleaning up a massive spill in the Arctic is untested and unknown.
    Massive resources were mobilised and yet BP recovered less than 20% of the oil from the Gulf spill. Up in the Arctic how are they going to be able to mobilise the necessary resourses as quickly as needed?
    Logically it just doesnt seem feasible.

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  15. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    andyscrase: Go away with all that rational technical information! This is the outfit that cited the grounding of the “Rena” as supporting evidence for the hypothesis that offshore oil exploration off the NZ coast was too environmentally risky!

    You are obviously in the exploration game…correct me if I’m wrong, but there never has been a blowout on a wildcat well in the North Sea has there? The only one I know of is a blowout on a Phillips owned platform in the Norwegian sector 30 odd years ago…Please update me if you can.

    VOR: I agree. The central issue is wther this can be done safely….

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  16. Akaroa (557 comments) says:

    Re-Manolo above, et al.

    Some years ago I tried to have a meaningful debate with a Greenpeace guy on climate change and the functions, aims and policies of Greenpeace itself At the time he was rattling a tin and collecting for them outside Wellington Central Library.

    Although he appeared to be an intelligent young guy, almost certainly of the university-attending ilk – (although that doesn’t necessarily follow!!) – it was quite impossible to engage him in any meaningful or progressive way on the subject of alleged Global Warming, Mankind’s alleged Rape of the Earth’s Bounty and the consequent allegedly uncertain future of our civilisation and society.

    I came away frustrated by his obdurance and fearing that I’d been trying to interact with a programmed clone who exhibited nil ability to engage in sensible discourse or to display any awareness that there may be differing points of view to his own on those topics.

    Since then I’ve avoided these people like the plague.

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  17. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    ” it seems there can be no cast iron guarantees from Shell”

    mate, there is no cast iron guarantee you wont get hit by a bus. better stay inside for the rest of your life.

    for the amount of oil they pull out of the ground, there are fuck all spills. hell, the shell one cleaned itself up!

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  18. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    Based on recent history it seems there can be no cast iron guarantees from Shell.

    You’re right, that’s not possible.

    I bet Greens can’t give any cast iron guarantees their proposed world would be any safer. I suspect that if we stopped all the drilling they oppose, now, we would have a heap more problems than a possible but unlikely oil spil in the Arctic.

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  19. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    Dime Yeah maybe – but If I get knocked over by a bus it wouldn’t take much to clean me up.

    “hell, the shell one cleaned itself up!” .. which one do you mean?

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  20. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    And on the issue of safety….my offshore experience is now 25 years old, but I dont think much has changed since I did a paper on the environmental risks of offshore exploration at law school 20 years ago.

    The reality is there IS no adequate legal protection in the EEZ, something which should have been dealt with years ago, and I believe is finally being addressed. But all the laws in the world won’t prevent blowouts or other disastrous events, and the resulting environmental damage. It is unarguable that all the money in the world cannot remedy the effects of a Gulf of Mexico type scenario off East Cape.

    What will prevent such disasters is incentivising the explorers not to let it happen, or more accurately, giving them massive disincentives in the event of environmental harm. For example, many countries require explorers to post large bonds – tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars – which are recoverable only at the end of an exploration programme which has resulted in no harm to the environment.

    When it comes to their own money, companies are extremely rational actors: if you make the COST of any environmental damage high enough, you will ensure – so far as is possible in an inherently risky business – that disasters dont occur. But that returns us to the central issue: the Greenies oppose ANY exploration anywhere, regardless of the risks. Until we can replace fossil fuels with something else, we will need to take risks to recover them. To adopt the language of the HSE Act, elimination of the hazard entirely is not possible. Mimimization is.

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  21. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    Or those disincentives can be personal…I remember intervieiwing for a job once as a driller in Libya. The interviewer pointed out that the drilling company’s contract with the libyans allowed the beheading of any driller who was found to be responsible for an accident that killed a libyan worker. It was made clear to me that in such an event, the company would make every effort to get me out of there before the retribution squad arrived, but could make no guarantees.

    Its all a very long time ago, but my memory is that that company’s drilling operations were much slower than elsewhere, but also with significantly fewer lost time accidents. The disincentive was enough to prevent me taking the job!

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  22. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    voice of reason – as bad as the shell oil leak was. its pretty much gone. the ocean ate it all up :)

    personally, im satisfied with the conditions imposed on shell. its worth the risk.

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  23. andyscrase (89 comments) says:

    In reply to David Garrett, yes I used to work in Oil Exploration. I still keep my nose dirty by developing software for that industry.

    The most notable accident in the North Sea was Piper Alpha, but I am not sure if this was a blowout that caused the explosion. Occidental, the operator of the rig, were notorious on safety.

    Shell and BP have a very good record on safety. The Deepwater Horizon incident was a very unfortunate turn of events. (my euphemism for the day!)

    To give an example, in BP offices in the UK it is a sackable offense not to use the handrail when using staircases in offices.

    This video from Shell explains the redundant safety systems being deployed
    http://www.shell.us/home/content/usa/aboutshell/projects_locations/alaska/

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  24. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    Dime still unsure which “Shell” spill you refer to ?- the last one I know of from Shell was the Bonga field spill in Niger

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  25. MT_Tinman (3,186 comments) says:

    Adolf Fiinkensein (2,154) Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 10:08 am
    B B B B B B But David, you silly boy, deisel ships burn the same oil that fuels jet aircraft.

    Let her sail or row.

    I doubt you’d manufacture a boat of any type, let alone sails or oars, without cutting a tree, using electricity, oil products etc. so no, make it walk.

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  26. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    http://www.alaska.boemre.gov/ref/ProjectHistory/2012Shell_BF/revisedEP/Camden%20Bay%20Public%20Copy.pdf

    Heres a copy of Shell’s exploration plan for the Beaufort sea – =100 mb in size – 1400+ pages
    night time reading for those interested

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  27. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    voice of reason – sorry, didnt realise i had to be so specific. but for the normal people without an agenda, when you refer to the shell oil spill they generally know which one youre talking about.

    ya just know someone who calls themselves “voice of reason” is a smug ahole. It may as well be “im always right”.

    in this case you show anything but reason. the world needs resources. deal with it.

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  28. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    andycrase: Piper Alpha of course! senior moment there….but that again was a platform accident not a wildcat being drilled by a ship or a semi….Of course the environmental damage is the same, but as you (and anyone else with any knowledge of this) know, any discovery in the arctic is probably ten years at least away from being exploited, so the immediate concern is with the dangers of drilling wildcats.

    I must disagree with you on the Gulf incident…from my enquiries among old mates who are still in the game it was a series of huge fuck ups…none of which should have been allowed to happen. the worst was running a subsea backup BOP operation unit which they knew was either u/s or likely to be so. That along with poor well design, poor cementing…industry insiders tell me all of the things that went wrong could be directly attributed to attempts to save money…so regardless off the requirement to use handrails in offices (which is the sort of nonsense lawyers like me have forced on them) I dont think you can dismiss the BP blowout in the Gulf as anything other than an egregious set of fuck ups, none of which ought to have happened.

    If the rig superintendent was liable to get beheaded in the event of a blow out do you think any of that would have happened?!!

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  29. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    Dime – seems you are the one being smug – why dont you just answer my query?

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  30. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    Regarding cast iron guarantees, can Greenpeace guarantee that not one person will fail to be brought out of poverty or die by not drilling or mining anywhere due to higher energy prices?
    No, then they should just STFU.

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  31. andyscrase (89 comments) says:

    David Garrett – yes I agree the GoM was a hug F**K Up. My euphemism was missed in translation.

    The problem with incidents like this (and Rena) is that they get regurgitated by the environmentalists as evidence that all fossil fuel is evil.

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  32. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    voice – im being smug? really?

    you cant figure out which shell oil spill im referring too?

    im talking about the 1969 santa barbara oil spill.

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  33. David Garrett (7,271 comments) says:

    dime: play nicely!

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  34. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    Fuck that was hard

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  35. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    I am not aware that greenpeace has ever come up with anything positve. Its all “You cant do that”
    There is nothing worthwhile about an outfit that wants to stop everything.

    Now if they really did want to impress they would head back into the hills and live off the land without any modern inptu – no power and telephone and any form of processed food (even say raw meat – kill your own), no modern drugs (they will revert to witchcraft I guess).

    Now if they did that then they might be listened to – although i dont know how what with no method of communication with anyone else and no mechanical travel system etc.

    bloody hypocrites.

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  36. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    emmess>Regarding cast iron guarantees, can Greenpeace guarantee that not one person will fail to be brought out of poverty or die by not drilling or mining anywhere due to higher energy prices?

    “Not a single” seems to be the Green’s latest debating tactic. A couple of weeks ago Hughes wanted the government to guarantee that not a single dolphin would die due to fishing in NZ waters. Yesterday, Turei wanted the PM to guarantee that not a single child would have a bad experience in child care while their mother was at work. I think the Greens either think John Key is omnipotent, or that no risk is acceptable regardless of the size of reward. It’s the sort of unrealistic expectation that you normally associate with pre-teen girls… the ones that like to dress up as fairies or princesses.

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  37. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    but I’d be more impressed when Lucy Lawless starts taking diesel ships to travel overseas for her Hollywood career, rather than jet planes.

    marcw then beat me to it….

    No, no, no… not diesel. Must be sailing ship, with cloth sails, hand sawed timbers.

    But… No, no, no … must be hemp sails and a bamboo hull !

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  38. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    burt>But… No, no, no … must be hemp sails and a bamboo hull !

    Bamboo? So you’d be prepared to murder pandas so that Lawless could continue to act in the globalised film industry?

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  39. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    “February 29th, 2012 at 1:03 pm
    Bamboo? So you’d be prepared to murder pandas so that Lawless could continue to act in the globalised film industry?”

    Shit yes – I’m sick of seeing Panda stories on TV – everytime one of them gives birth it spawns news

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  40. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    I meant I dont care if lawless acts again – I’m just sick of seeing Pandas 0n TV

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  41. Paulus (2,626 comments) says:

    Am not sure that Greenpeace, and its parliamentary party, have really done themselves any good over this matter.

    They have shown the general public what a pack of hypocritical freaks they really are.

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  42. kowtow (8,449 comments) says:

    There is a serious error in the Stuff article……..

    .”……..open sea before ice forms in Chukchi waters.”

    Everybody knows that with AGW ice in the Arctic is a thing of the past.And polar bears………

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  43. Manolo (13,755 comments) says:

    With apologies (crossposted from GD).

    Excellent letter to the editor re: the hypocrite Lawless and the Luddites:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/letters-to-the-editor/6496941/Letter-I-take-it-that-she-lives-her-principles

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  44. KevinH (1,227 comments) says:

    I don’t know whether anyone on this page has been watching Sir David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet screening on TV1 Tuesday nights at 8.30. It is compelling viewing and raises all the issues fiercely debated on this blog ie global warming and drilling in the Arctic.
    The programme is non partisan and leaves you the viewer to make your own conclusions and decisions as to the practicality of drilling in the Arctic and Antartica.From my observations neither of those options are desirable for a host of reasons ie the enviromental impact is to great in the long term, and the outcome: increased oil availabilty is negligible and unnecessary.
    The programme was clear and on message that continued exploitation of these pristine enviroments will have a devastating effect on this planet in the foreseeable future ie 2100 and that we have to take a reality check on what we are doing.

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  45. kowtow (8,449 comments) says:

    Frozen Planet not without it’s own controversies.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8923287/Lord-Lawson-accuses-Sir-David-Attenborough-of-sensationalism.html

    Then there was the faked polar bear birth that took place in a zoo. And the BBC dropped the last episode from it’s overseas package as the warming alarmism may not have gone down too well with sensible,less gullible American audiences.

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  46. DJP6-25 (1,387 comments) says:

    David Garrett 9:45. I’m sure that if they studied Mao, Stalin, and the Austrian chap with the funny moustache, they’d come up with a few pointers as to how one can rapidly reduce the earth’s population.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  47. andyscrase (89 comments) says:

    Attenborough, BBC.
    Yes those guys have “form” when it comes to “global warming”.

    Climategate 2 revealed much about the BBCs grubby involvement with environmental groups

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  48. Spam (588 comments) says:

    The most notable accident in the North Sea was Piper Alpha, but I am not sure if this was a blowout that caused the explosion. Occidental, the operator of the rig, were notorious on safety.

    Nope. Not a blowout. Was a result of the operators starting-up a compressor when they had done a half-arsed isolation on it. On shift new it was ‘isolated’, the other thought it was available, and started it, pushing gas into the middle of the platform where it ignited. There have been a lot of safety improvements since Piper Alpha, and actually a lot of them are written into Law in the UK (and are effectively law here as well incidentally). There were other factors that allowed it to escalate (lack of pipeline isolation valves, other platforms effectively feeding the fire, fire water pumps being isolated (to prevent divers in the water being sucked into the intakes), the design of the layout, lack of a safe place for staff to muster and be rescued from. Pretty much a fuck up from go to whoa.

    By the way – if Shell are drilling for gas condensate in the arctic, then the environmental risks are greatly reduced. Some condensates actually evaporate rather than form large slicks that hang around for ever.

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  49. mister nui (1,027 comments) says:

    The cause of all of the loss of life on Piper Alpha was because at the time, regulations meant that the overall person in charge of production for a facility was land based. When the explosion onboard PA happened, the fuel was quickly burnt, but, because the master of another facility that fed the PA could not raise the land based person in charge to get authorisation to shut-down production from his facility, they kept on pumping to the PA, sending more and more fuel to the fire.

    Google “Spiral To Disaster” and watch the film if you’re interested.

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  50. mister nui (1,027 comments) says:

    By the way – if Shell are drilling for gas condensate in the arctic, then the environmental risks are greatly reduced. Some condensates actually evaporate rather than form large slicks that hang around for ever.

    Dead right Spam.

    Furthermore, we should be encouraging as much exploitation of gas and condensate reserves as we can, as if we want to be all clean and green, these are the truly clean and green hydrocarbon fuels.

    But the greenies will never let these facts get in the way of their ban all hydrocarbons argument.

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