Bye Bye

Shell Polar Pioneer floating oil drill rig left the Pacific Northwest for Norway today. Nice holiday gift for all of us.

Shell Polar Pioneer floating oil drill rig left the Pacific Northwest for Norway today. Nice holiday gift for all of us.


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.

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About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Walter Haugen

Dec 25, 2015

Not to get your hopes up or anything, but you might want to consider that it took MILLIONS of antiwar protesters to have an effect on LBJ and Richard Nixon.


John Servais

Dec 25, 2015

Thank you Walter for that message of Hope on this special day.  What did it for LBJ was realizing he could not win the next presidential election, not the protestors. He had lost the non-protesting middle class. Nixon brought himself down and protestors were not even a side show.  You are right though that protesting is the long hard way to change.  The kayak protests were colorfully visual and represented a middle class with money.  In the end, it was Shell’s inability to manage their project, not the protestors.  The arctic environment is the true winner as it defeated Shell.

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