Getting the icebreaker MSV Fennica out of Portland has unlocked Arctic drilling for Shell Oil.
As WW reported in Wednesday's cover story, the oil giant began drilling in the Chukchi Sea five minutes after the Fennica passed under the St. Johns Bridge and headed back to the Arctic on July 30. The ship had been delayed 12 hours by Greenpeace protesters dangling from the bridge and gaining global attention with a Portland blockade.
The Fennica arrived back in Alaska on Wednesday. That same day, Shell spilled its side of the Fennica standoff to Bloomberg Businessweek.
The story is a profile of Ann Pickard, who runs Shell's Arctic drilling operations. It mentions the Portland standoff only in passing, but offers a ton of information about what Shell plans to do now that it has the Fennica in Alaska.
Pickard calls the management of the Fennica âa perfect example of operating exceptionally well.â On July 30, the ship maneuvered past nine remaining protesters hanging from Portlandâs St. Johns Bridge and headed out to the Pacific on its way to the Chukchi. Anticipating the Fennicaâs return, the Polar Pioneerâs drill bit began spinning into the seafloor to carve a âmud-line cellar,â a 20-by-40-foot space that will house the blowout preventer (BOP). In most offshore projects, the BOP projects above the seabed. Shell is burying the device to minimize potential damage from any large, unseasonal underwater ice floes of the sort that forced the Discoverer to detach and retreat from its top hole in 2012.
The big takeaway from Bloomberg's story: The risky drilling operation Shell started last week will take 15 years—working only in the short Arctic summers—before oil starts flowing.
One other memorable detail: Shell had to scale back the number of wells it's drilling because of "noise-sensitive walruses."