Shell quits off-shore drilling in Alaska for the 'foreseeable future'

Arctic drilling protest against Shell
CC BY 2.0 Backbone Campaign

Today, Shell announced it will abandon exploratory drilling off the coast of Alaska.

Although Shell has found some gas and oil off Alaska's coast, the company says there's not enough to merit further drilling. According to a press release from the company, the decision to pull out of the area is also due to “the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.”

But the announcement is a huge win for environmentalists, and the many activists who campaigned against the project.

Public opinion also likely motivated Shell. The Guardian reports that the company “privately made clear it is taken aback by the public protests against the drilling which are threatening to seriously damage its reputation.”

Over the past several years, activists organized a range of efforts to protest and even attempt to block Shell’s work in the Arctic. This summer, protesters gained a huge amount of media attention attempting to prevent Shell’s Alaska-bound ships from leaving ports in the lower 48. The demonstrators used kayaks and in one case suspended themselves from a bridge.

Activists have also targeted companies that have partnerships with Shell, such as Lego, which eventually dumped its partnership with the oil company.

“This is a victory for everyone who has stood up for the Arctic,” said Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard in a statement. “Whether they took to kayaks or canoes, rappelled from bridges, or spread the news in their own communities, millions of people around the world have taken action against Arctic drilling.”

She called for President Obama to cancel any future drilling and to make Alaska’s waters off-limits to oil companies.

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