|Posted by David Gordon|
We received a rather strange press release from Shell and Sakhalin Energy over the weekend. The press release stated that severe weather conditions had damaged production facilities at Sakhalin Energy’s platform of northeastern Sakhalin. Apparently there was a “small release” of oil into the sea. Even more strange, Sakhalin Energy spokespeople say that they don’t know when the release occurred! They say the release was less than 10 liters – frankly hard to believe, given Sakhalin Energy’s track record so far.
I don’t understand how the world’s largest integrated oil and gas project, built according to Shell and Sakhalin Energy to world-class standards, can have an oil spill and the company doesn’t even know when it occurred. Meanwhile, I’m not surprised that this happened – severe storms hit Northeastern Sakhalin on a regular basis, especially going into winter. Check out this photo to see the kind of waves you can get offshore of Northeastern Sakhalin.
Of course, as global warming intensifies, so will the intensity of the storms. This latest spill is similar to a September 1999 spill in which somewhere between 2 and 200 barrels of oil (depending on whether you ask the company or environmental groups) spilled when the floating storage tanker broke off from its moorings. Let’s hope that independent analysis will show the actual amount of the spill and when it occurred.
This latest incident – and Shell’s lack of information about when it occurred – proves once again that offshore oil development in arctic and subarctic conditions is just too risky for these fragile environments. Shell just doesn’t know how to do it right.