Bye Bye To Shell’s Polar Pioneer

Above photo: Shell oil rig welded to deck of huge transport ship in Port Angeles harbor. DANIELLA BECCARIA, SEATTLEPI.COM

Merry Christmas and Seasons’ Greetings.  The Grinch has left the building.  We can all breath a bit easier.  The huge Shell Oil floating drill platform is – as I write this – going west out the Straits of Georgia, leaving us for good at a speed of 11 mph.  Bye bye.

The Port Angeles newspaper, the Peninsula Daily News, has been watching and reporting on the oil rig for the past week and you can read the full story there.  There are links to the specific articles below this post.  The photo above shows actually two vessels – the yellow legged Shell drilling rig Polar Pioneer that normally floats and is towed by tugs – and the Dockwise Vanguard, one of the largest vessels in the world that is carrying the drilling rig.  The Vanguard can carry a ship or rig that is heavier than a nuclear aircraft carrier.  Awesome.

The two will travel down the west coast of the Americas, round South America through the Strait of Magellan, and go north to Norway.  Far far from us.

In Bellingham, we had vigorous and effective protests last May to one of the support vessels for this drilling rig.  There were also mass kayak protests in Seattle and Portland to other support vessels.  For those who might think such protests have nothing to do with the rig leaving, just consider if we had all greeted and cheered on the oil drilling rigs when they were here.  Shell might be preparing for more drilling in the summer of 2016 in the Arctic. In truth we do not know how much effect the protests had, but they certainly might have contributed to the decision by Shell to end drilling in the Arctic.  So, we thank the protestors.

Chiara D’Angelo especially can be thanked.  During the kayak protest here, she suddenly and on her own initiative climbed the anchor chain of a support vessel in Bellingham and hung there for three days and nights. She drew world wide attention to the efforts of Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic.  And Shell did not want that publicity.

So today the Shell rig leaves with its proverbial tail between its legs. Slinking out the Straits to the Pacific and to Norway.  A nice Christmas gift for all of us in the Pacific Northwest.  Happy Holidays.  The Arctic has a fresh chance to avoid the black stains of oil spills. As I prepare to post and open this article, a last check on the ships shows them past the straits and out in the Pacific, turning southwest. Bye bye.