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Cost to Shell of Kulluk Grounding? $90 Million and Counting ….

1:38 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Shell arctic drilling deployment scheme

Thursday, at Shell Oil’s annual Results Conference in London, Shell CEO Peter Voser delivered a prepared address on the company’s global performance during 2012.  It included little information about the energy giant’s 2012 Alaska Arctic drilling season fiascos we don’t already know:

“Despite making some progress we have run into problems in the last few months. Our rigs will need more work if they are going to be ready for the 2013 drilling season. One, the Noble Discoverer needs a series of upgrades, and the other, the Kulluk, ran aground in a heavy storm on New Year’s Eve and has been damaged.”

After the address, though, Vosser answered questions from the press.  His answers provided some new information.  Questioned on whether or not Shell had decided to move the rigs when they did to avoid paying millions in Alaska taxes, Vosser tried to wriggle out from under previous statements and information available through Shell officials in Alaska:

Tim Webb, the energy editor at The Times in London, asked Voser if Shell was moving the rig from Unalaska to Seattle in order to evade Alaska’s oil and gas property tax.

“Assuming you say that’s true, because I think that came from Shell, would you say that’s an example of Shell not managing risks correctly, or making a poor decision in terms of managing risk in Alaska?”

In response, Voser denied that the decision to move the rig had anything to do with taxes, saying that the $5-6 million they would have had to pay is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

“There was a statement made by a Shell person, but in a completely different context, in a completely different meeting. That was then taken out of that context and then someone made a story out it. Just to be very clear on this one.”

The original story was written by Dutch Harbor Fisherman reporter Jim Paulin. In it, he quoted an email from Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith that was sent before the grounding. Paulin says he stands by his reporting.

“And I don’t think Shell would be backing away from that comment had it not gone aground. I think they would have been sending lobbyists to Juneau to try to repeal that tax. And I think that would be, in my opinion, the motivation for making that comment that it influenced their decision to move it.”

Reporter Paulin’s statement about Shell lobbyists in Juneau is, if anything, understatement.  During the same day Shell CEO Vosser  was delivering his annual report, in Juneau, the oil industry was flexing its muscle as it only can in Alaska.

The 2012 election brought an end to a Senate bipartisan coalition that dated back to shortly after the FBI busted a number of Alaska legislators for taking bribes from the major oil field service company in Alaska, Veco.  Although it was understood at the time that Veco’s bribers were working on behalf of oil giant ConocoPhillips, no employees from the latter were ever indicted by the Justice Department.  The crooked legislators smugly called themselves “The Corrupt Bastards Club,” and even had baseball caps made with the term plastered across them.

Replacing the bipartisan Senate coalition is a new GOP-run super majority that is intent on ramming through Senate Bill 21, which will repeal the most important element of Alaska’s taxation of oil fields here, and strip billions of dollars per year from state coffers and give it to immensely wealthy oil companies, like ConocoPhillips, British Petroleum and Exxon-Mobil.

Tuesday through Thursday, the Senate Special Committee on TAPS [Trans-Alaska Pipeline System] Throughput held telephonic hearings across the state on SB 21.  About 90% of the testimony was in favor of not implementing SB 21, or of even tweaking our tax rate on the oil industry, which is at the bottom of the middle of the pack worldwide.
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Saturday Art – Shadows

8:16 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

In late 1992, as bronze sculptor Peter Bevis finished his forensic impressions of animal victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, he asked me to compose a sonic background to his upcoming Anchorage and Seattle showings. I told him I thought the background should have the words of people involved in the spill, and in the gathering of the dead animals he had cast. He agreed. I commissioned Alaska poet Ann Chandonnet to write four verses that were inter-related. Peter’s show opened at the Alaska Gallery of Contemporary Art in March, 1993. I dedicated the work then to Rick Steiner, who wrote his first post for firedoglake Friday.

If you click on the title of each of the verses, you are taken to my garage band page. Click on the green forward arrow. A new window opens. You can then go to the old window, and click back and read the words, as the music plays:


by Ann Chandonnet

1. Mechanism/Organism

Waves of memory.
Welding things together.
A wake for a wake.
Waves breaking on black rocks
around Bligh Reef.
A thrum of engines.
Breaker, breaker.
It’s Valdez back.
It’s Valdez back.
No matter where you went it was black.
Slick waves breaking.
A thrum of engines.
We’re leaking some.
Going to be here awhile.
Waves breaking black and thick.
We’re going to be here awhile.
And if you want to say you’re notified.
Russian roulette.
It’s not a matter of “if.”
It’s a matter of “when.”
Slick waves breaking.
Dark rocks.
Dead on the beaches, all curled up.
Some of those still alive are blind.
Russian roulette.
It’s not a matter of “if.”
We’ve fetched up,
And we’re going to be here awhile.
Sad is too mild a word.
The high costs of being here.
But we’re going to be here awhile.
Slick rocks,
Waves crashing.
Dark foam, dark rocks, slick.
No matter where you went it was black.
Dead on the beaches, all curled up.
Organism against mechanism.
Sad is too mild a word.
Hundreds of variables.
A thrum of engines.
Awake. Hundreds of variables!
A wake, a spreading pool.
Russian roulette.
Thousands of possible scenarios:
night, engines, ice;
single hull, dark waves, a reef beneath.
The cry of gulls.
Rock against metal,
hands against a flood,
organism against mechanism.
Should be on your radar there.

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Prep Material for Riki Ott and the Not One Drop Sunday FDL Book Salon

12:18 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I’ve posted a series of links to background material for Dr. Riki Ott’s Sunday firedoglake Book Salon appearance, where she will discuss her new book, Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez.

I’ve posted them at my blog, Progressive Alaska. The list is long, and could be a lot longer. But anyone unfamiliar with Dr. Ott, her newest book and her concept of a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, that would mandate separation of corporation and state, and is interested in important ecological issues, should check out the blog post.

On Sunday, during the fdl book salon session, I’ll be hosting Riki from Wasilla. Riki is concluding her national book tour in Southeast Alaska, and will respond to comments from the Haines Public Library, before she catches the ferry to Juneau, and a plane home to Cordova. She has been on the road for months, so is quite eager to get back to her community and spiritual family in Cordova.

For the fdl book salon session, we only ask that one person who sucks the air out of quality time, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, be off topic.

Way off topic.

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