Although we figured there was something fishy about Shell’s hasty move of their drilling rig out of Alaska back in December, we weren’t expecting their officials to come right out and admit the move was an effort to avoid taxes.
During a Coast Guard investigation testimony, Sean Churchfield, operations manager for Royal Dutch Shell in Alaska, admitted the company chose to move the rig during a powerful winter storm to avoid potential millions in Alaska taxes. Shell lost control of the Kulluk while en route and the rig ran aground off the coast of Sitkalidak Island in Alaska.
Responding to Shell’s admission that the company moved the Kulluk for tax reasons before it ran aground off the coast of Alaska, Greenpeace US Deputy Campaigns Director Dan Howells said:
“Shell’s decision to put tax avoidance over the safety of Alaska’s coastline was reckless in the extreme. It now transpires that instead of taking a safe and precautionary approach, Shell’s leadership rushed moving the Kulluk to try to avoid paying the taxes they owed to the state of Alaska. This is part of a corporate culture which puts cost-saving above safety from Nigeria to the North Sea and now the Arctic.
“Serious questions remain about why a Shell spokesman denied that tax was the primary reason for moving the Kulluk, despite initially telling a reporter a different story when asked about the towing of the rig. It’s difficult to see how the American public can trust Shell to look after the fragile Arctic environment,” Mr Howells said.
Shell’s campaign to drill in the Arctic has been riddled with disaster, a clear warning sign that oil rigs do not belong there.