Shell Gets Approval To Drill in Arctic, Spills 14,000 Gallons in Gulf of Mexico

The two aren't causally linked of course, but the symbolism and timing is pure tragicomedy.

As the Obama administration grants permission for Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic (albeit with restrictions such as not drilling for oil when there is ice present), Shell admits to spilling roughly 14,000 gallons of oil and drilling fluids into the Gulf of Mexico.

The spill happened on Sunday near the site of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent record-breaking oil spill. reports that the spill occurred as Shell was drilling in 7,000 feet of water with the Deepwater Nautilus rig. The rig is owned by Transocean, the same company operating the Deepwater Horizon.

A Shell emailed statement said that the spill has been fully stopped already. According to the official report filed by Shell the spill contained 7,560 gallons of oil and 5,829 gallons of synthetic drilling fluids.

Reports coming out over the past year over the safety of drilling in the Arctic aren't encouraging. In fact Coast Guard officials have said there simply isn't technology available that effectively deals with a spill occurring in icy waters.

Grist's blunt analysis of what could happen is on the money:

It might look a little like Russia, i.e. fucking terrible. Russia's constant oil leaks are already contaminating the Arctic, wiping out entire ecosystems and all of the fishing and hunting upon which many remote villages rely. And Russia is aiming to follow Shell into Arctic waters, which could compound the disaster—Russian company Lukoil's safety record makes Shell look like Greenpeace.

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