Tag Archives: Royal Dutch Shell

Greenpeace Protesters Block Oil Ship in Portland

Repost from NBC News

Greenpeace Protesters Blocking Oil Ship Rappel Down From Portland Bridge

By M. Alex Johnson, Jul 30 2015, 11:14 pm ET

Greenpeace protesters dangling from a Portland, Oregon, bridge lowered themselves to the Willamette River on Thursday, clearing the way for an oil company icebreaker to continue on its way to the Pacific Ocean and then the Alaskan coast.

The 13 protesters had been hanging from the St. Johns Bridge for almost 40 hours in an attempt to block Royal Dutch Shell’s icebreaker MSV Fennica — which stopped in Portland for repairs Saturday — from returning to sea.

Image: Greenpeace activists hang from Portland bridge
Kayakers gather Thursday as Greenpeace activists hang from the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon. Don Ryan / AP

After almost two days into the protest, members of the Portland Fire Bureau’s technical rescue rope team built their own rope system Thursday crossing the bridge, Lt. Rich Tyler said Thursday night.

Then, “we ended up lowering ourselves down to where the protesters were,” he said.

The first two protesters the officers reached agreed to lower themselves to a Multnomah County sheriff’s rescue boat in the river below.

The next ones, however, refused, “so we went down to where the ropes were connected and anchored, attached our ropes to their ropes … and lowered them down” without their cooperation, Tyler said.

Once the first three protesters had been removed and the Fennica had enough room to pass — it sailed through right under them — “the rest came down voluntarily,” he said.

Meanwhile, “kayaktivists” in the river tried to block the icebreaker’s path, but crews hooked their kayaks to jet skis and pulled them out of the way. The ship cleared the bridge about 6 p.m. (9 p.m. ET).

The ship’s next confrontation could come in Astoria, Oregon, where it was expected to arrive after 11 p.m. (2 a.m. Friday ET). The Coast Guard said it was prepared to enforce a 500-yard safety zone around the Fennica as it made its way through the Willamette and Columbia rivers Thursday night and Friday.

The protest was a costly one for Greenpeace, which was fined $2,500 for every hour the ship was stalled — eventually reaching $17,500 — after a U.S. district judge in Alaska found the organization in civil contempt.

Related: Activists Hang From Oregon’s St. Johns Bridge to Protest Shell’s Arctic Oil Drilling

And police carted off an undetermined number of protesters and other people in plastic handcuffs, with charges to be determined, probably Friday, police said.

But Mary Nicol, senior Arctic campaigner for Greenpeace USA, said it was worth it.

“We found that the blockade was successful,” Nicol told NBC station KGW of Portland. “Climate change does present a real threat to everyone globally.”

Royal Dutch Shell, which the U.S. Interior Department granted the final two permits it needs to explore for oil in the Arctic, said in a statement Thursday night that with the Fennica on its way to Alaska, “the Transocean Polar Pioneer commenced initial drilling operations” immediately in the Chukchi Sea.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said the protest made for a “hard day,” because he opposes drilling in the Arctic but had law-enforcement responsibilities as mayor to carry out.

“It’s time to move from protest to action, to changing the laws,” Hales said Thursday night. “After all, that’s the point of the protest.”

Repost from The Oregonian

Greenpeace protesters claim symbolic victory as Shell Oil ship leaves Portland

By The Oregonian/OregonLive, July 30, 2015 at 8:38 PM, updated July 31, 2015 at 6:33 AM

Just before 6 p.m. Thursday, the controversial icebreaker MSV Fennica threaded through a hole cut by law enforcement in the wall of protesters suspended from the St. Johns Bridge.

For Royal Dutch Shell, the company that will use the ship in oil-drilling operations in the Arctic, the exit marked the end of a week of protests on the Portland bridge and outside the Swan Island dry dock where a gash in the ship’s hull was repaired.

For the 13 Greenpeace USA activists on the bridge and dozens of others in kayaks and canoes on the Willamette River, it marked a disappointing end to a high-risk, high-reward protest.

“It was tough to see the boat go through there, but every second counts,” protester Razz Gormley said Thursday evening. “I consider this a victory.”

Razz Gormley
“It was tough to see the boat go through there,” protester Razz Gormley, 42, of Boulder, Colorado, says. “I considered this a victory.” Molly Young/The Oregonian/OregonLive

Gormley, 42, of Boulder, Colorado, climbed over the railing of the St. Johns Bridge just after 1 a.m. Wednesday and spent the next 40 hours dangling about 100 feet from the bridge’s roadway and 100 feet above the Willamette River.

The 13 suspended protesters and the minders who watched over them from the St. Johns Bridge deck hoped to prevent the Fennica from departing for the Arctic. Their goal was to delay Shell’s ship – hopefully pushing back the difficult work of drilling for oil in the Arctic long enough that the company would lose a year of work. In the time before things thawed next year, protesters hoped for political change in Washington, D.C.

As Gormley was greeted as a hero after rappelling to the water Thursday evening, he explained that even though the protesters lost the battle, they delayed the boat for hours.

Earlier Thursday, a first game of chicken was won by the protesters.

The Fennica headed downriver from Swan Island at about 6 a.m. Within about 300 yards of the St. Johns Bridge, it stopped. Dozens of kayaks and canoes pinched the river channel just in front of the 13 suspended protesters, each linked with arcing ropes between them and with a long colorful streamer trailing behind in the morning wind.

About two hours later, the ship was back at Swan Island.

Just after 2 p.m., officers from the Coast Guard, Portland police, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and other Portland-area law enforcement agencies closed the St. Johns Bridge to all traffic and began to direct the river-going protesters toward the shore.

Within two hours, the Coast Guard had closed the Willamette River to all traffic between Swan Island and the Columbia River. They used boat hooks to move the smaller craft from the waterway.

Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson and Portland fire Lt. Rich Tyler said police and fire teams closed the bridge when each agency had the resources in place to conduct a safe technical 205-foot rope rescue.

A police Special Emergency Response Team officer rappelled over the bridge and cut the lines connecting the protesters dangling from the bridge. Then Portland Fire Bureau technical rescue teams moved in, with some firefighters going over the bridge’s edge and asking the protesters to voluntarily ease themselves down to waiting boats.

The first two protesters came down on their own but the third wouldn’t communicate. Firefighters connected two rope lines to his lines, removed his anchor and lowered him on their attached lines to a boat.

Their work opened a gap just wide enough for the Fennica’s safe passage.

“It was frustrating and heartbreaking,” Philip Fensterer of North Portland said minutes after the ship cleared the bridge and the last protesters.

robertjonahmajure24.jpg
Robert Jonah Majure, 24 | MCSO

As the ship moved toward the Columbia River — and, ultimately, the Pacific Ocean — the remaining protesters quietly slipped off their perches. Each was greeted as a hero on the Willamette’s banks by crowds of protesters whose feelings had traveled during the day from exhilaration to anger to resignation to exhausted thankfulness.

Police initially detained protesters but by late Thursday night said they only made one arrest: 24-year-old Robert Jonah Majure, who police say locked himself to a railroad bridge and is accused of first-degree criminal trespass.

“Everybody’s hearts are broken,” Greenpeace USA spokeswoman Cassady Sharp said Thursday evening. “They’re just getting amazing love and support. That’s what makes us feel encouraged after today.”

— Laura Frazier, Molly Young, Maxine Bernstein and Stuart Tomlinson contributed to this report.

 

 

Share...

    California Gov. Brown: keep the oil in the ground

    Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle
    [Editor – This report signals a highly significant shift in the discussions surrounding climate change and the oil industry: cut demand … or cut supply?   A must read!  – RS]

    Gov. Brown wants to keep oil in the ground. But whose oil?

    By David R. Baker, July 26, 2015 8:16pm
    California Gov. Jerry Brown, right,  delivers his speech flanked by the head of the pontifical academy of Science, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, during  a conference on Modern Slavery and Climate Change in the Casina Pio IV the Vatican, Wednesday, July 22, 2015.  Dozens of environmentally friendly mayors from around the world are meeting at the Vatican this week to bask in the star power of eco-Pope Francis and commit to reducing global warming and helping the urban poor deal with its effects. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Photo: Alessandra Tarantino, Associated Press
    California Gov. Jerry Brown, right, delivers his speech during a conference on Modern Slavery and Climate Change in the Casina Pio IV the Vatican, Wednesday, July 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

    Even the greenest, most eco-friendly politicians rarely utter the words Gov. Jerry Brown spoke at the Vatican’s climate change symposium last week.

    To prevent the worst effects of global warming, one-third of the world’s known oil reserves must remain in the ground, Brown told the gathering of government officials from around the world. The same goes for 50 percent of natural gas reserves and 90 percent of coal.

    “Now that is a revolution,” Brown said. “That is going to take a call to arms.”

    It’s an idea widely embraced among environmentalists and climate scientists. Burn all the world’s known fossil fuel supplies — the ones already discovered by energy companies — and the atmosphere would warm to truly catastrophic levels. Never mind hunting for more oil.

    But it’s a concept few politicians will touch. That’s because it raises a question no one wants to answer: Whose oil has to stay put?

    “They’ve all got their own oil,” said environmental activist and author Bill McKibben, who first popularized the issue with a widely read 2012 article in Rolling Stone. “Recognizing that you’ve got to leave your own oil — and not somebody else’s — in the ground is the next step.”

    Take California.

    No state has done more to fight global warming. By 2020, under state law, one-third of California’s electricity must come from the sun, the wind and other renewable sources. Brown wants 50 percent renewable power by 2030 and has called for slashing the state’s oil use in half by the same year.

    But he has shown no interest in cutting the state’s oil production. He has touted the economic potential of California’s vast Monterey Shale formation, whose oil reserves drillers are still trying to tap. And he has steadfastly refused calls from within his own party to ban fracking.

    “If we reduce our oil drilling in California by a few percent, which a ban on fracking would do, we’ll import more oil by train or by boat,” Brown told “Meet the Press.” “That doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

    California remains America’s third-largest oil producing state, behind Texas and North Dakota. The industry directly employs 184,100 Californians, helps support an estimated 271,840 other jobs and yields $21.2 billion in state and local taxes each year, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

    ‘Phasing out oil drilling’

    Any governor, no matter how environmentally minded, would have a hard time turning that down. Even if many environmentalists wish Brown would.

    “Just like we have a plan for increasing renewables, we need a plan for phasing out oil drilling in California,” said Dan Jacobson, state director for Environment California.

    It’s difficult for politicians to even talk about something as stark as putting limits on pumping oil, he said.

    “Solar and wind and electric cars are really hopeful things, whereas keeping oil in the ground sounds more like doomsday,” Jacobson said.

    And yet, Jacobson, McKibben and now apparently Brown are convinced that most fossil fuel reserves must never be used.

    The percentages Brown cited come from a study published this year in the scientific journal Nature. The researchers calculated that in order to keep average global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius — 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit — above preindustrial levels, the world’s economy can pump no more than 1,100 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere between 2011 and 2050. Burning the world’s known fossil fuel reserves would produce roughly three times that amount, they wrote.

    Most governments pursing climate-change policies have agreed to aim for a 2-degree Celsius warming limit, although many scientists consider that dangerously high. So far, global temperatures have warmed 0.8 degrees Celsius from preindustrial times.

    “The unabated use of all current fossil fuel reserves is incompatible with a warming limit of 2 degrees Celsius,” the study concludes.

    Nonetheless, states, countries and companies with fossil fuel reserves all have an obvious and powerful incentive to keep drilling.

    The market value of oil companies, for example, is based in part on the size of their reserves and their ability to find more. Activist investors warning of a “carbon bubble” in their valuations have pushed the companies to assess how many of those reserves could become stranded assets if they can’t be burned. The companies have resisted.

    President Obama, meanwhile, has made fighting climate change a key focus of his presidency, raising fuel efficiency standards for cars, pumping public financing into renewable power and pushing for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

    Cut demand or cut supply

    But Obama has also boasted about America’s surging oil and natural gas production — and tried to claim credit for it. Last week, his administration gave Royal Dutch Shell the green light to hunt for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Keeping oil in the ground does not quite square with his “all of the above” energy policy, observers note. At least, not American oil.

    “The same government that is working very hard to get a Clean Power Plan is allowing Shell to go exploring for hydrocarbons in the middle of nowhere, oil that may never be producible,” said climate activist and former hedge fund executive Tom Steyer, with audible exasperation.

    He notes that Obama, Brown and other politicians intent on fighting climate change have focused their efforts on cutting the demand for fossil fuels, rather than the supply. Most of the policies that climate activists want to see enacted nationwide — such as placing a price on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases — would do the same, ratcheting down demand rather than placing hard limits on fossil fuel production.

    “The political thinking is the market itself will take care of figuring out which fossil fuels have to stay in the ground,” Steyer said.

    Some climate fights, however, have focused on supply. And again, the issue of whose fossil fuels have to stay put has played a part.

    Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline extension, for example, see blocking the project — which would run from Canada to America’s Gulf Coast — as a way to stop or at least slow development of Alberta’s enormous oil sands. James Hansen, the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, famously declared that fully developing the sands would be “game over for the climate.”

    Obama has delayed a decision on the pipeline for years. Given America’s own rising oil production, rejecting a project that could be a boon for the Canadian economy would be difficult, analysts say.

    “The message would be, ‘We’re not going to help you develop your resources — we’ll essentially raise the cost,’” said UC Berkeley energy economist Severin Borenstein. He is convinced that Canada will develop the tar sands, regardless.

    “It’s become such a huge symbol that it’s impossible for Obama to make a decision on it,” Borenstein said. “I think he’s just going to run out the clock.”

    Share...

      Why U.S. oil companies clash with EU peers on global warming

      Repost from The San Francisco Chronicle

      Why U.S. oil companies clash with EU peers on global warming

      By David R. Baker, Sunday, June 7, 2015 11:37 am
      John Watson, CEO of the Chevron Corporation, speaks during an energy summit in Washington, D.C., in 2011. Photo: Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images
      John Watson, CEO of the Chevron Corporation, speaks during an energy summit in Washington, D.C., in 2011. Photo: Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images

      The fight against climate change has opened a trans-Atlantic rift in an industry often seen as a monolith — Big Oil.

      Unwilling to sit on the sidelines of climate negotiations, Europe’s largest oil companies last month issued a joint statement calling for a worldwide price on the greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning their products. Such a price, they said, would help the global economy transition to cleaner sources of energy.

      The CEOs of BP, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Total all signed the statement.

      None of their American counterparts did.

      Chevron Corp. CEO John Watson argued that his European colleagues are pushing a policy that consumers would never embrace. Focus instead on developing nuclear plants and natural gas reserves to fight global warming, he said.

      “It’s not a policy that is going to be effective, because customers want affordable energy,” Watson said last week, at an OPEC seminar in Vienna. “They want low energy prices, not high energy prices.”

      The split, analysts say, reflects the stark divide between climate politics in Europe and the United States.

      Europe already has a cap-and-trade system for setting a price on greenhouse gas emissions. Public debate over global warming revolves around how best to fight it, not whether it exists.

      In the United States, many conservatives still insist that warming is either a natural phenomenon or an outright hoax perpetrated by scientists, environmentalists and their political allies. Pricing carbon is a nonstarter for most Republicans in Washington, who are trying to block President Obama’s climate regulations. An effort to create a nationwide cap-and-trade system died in 2010, in part due to opposition from oil- and coal-producing states.

      “The domestic politics for the U.S. companies is different from what it is for the Europeans,” said Raymond Kopp, a senior fellow with the Resources for the Future think tank. “Right now, this is a difficult conversation for them to have domestically.”

      And that’s assuming they want to have it all.

      Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson has expressed support for a tax on greenhouse gas emissions but hasn’t pushed for it. The company formerly supported groups that questioned the scientific consensus on warming. Billionaires Charles and David Koch, whose wealth comes largely from oil and gas, have poured money into the campaigns of political candidates who oppose action on climate change. The Koch brothers have announced plans to spend $889 million during the 2016 election cycle.

      California policies

      And while Chevron’s home base lies in the only U.S. state with a full-scale cap-and-trade program — California — the company has often criticized the state’s climate-change policies, warning they could push energy prices higher.

      Last month’s statement from the European oil CEOs, in contrast, brands climate change “a critical challenge for our world” that must be tackled immediately. The executives urge governments that haven’t already done so to start putting a price on carbon.

      The statement, issued as an open letter to two top international climate negotiators, is notably silent on whether the companies prefer a tax on greenhouse gas emissions or a cap-and-trade system. Such systems — including California’s, which began in 2012 — force businesses to buy credits for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit.

      The CEOs make clear, however, that they eventually want a worldwide price.

      “Pricing carbon obviously adds a cost to our production and our products,” they write. “But carbon pricing policy frameworks will contribute to provide our businesses and their many stakeholders with a clear roadmap for future investment, a level playing field for all energy sources across geographies and a clear role in securing a more sustainable future.”

      Natural gas strategy

      The CEOs also hint at how their companies could thrive in such a future, by producing more natural gas and investing in renewable technology. Indeed, the companies already have extensive natural gas holdings, analysts noted.

      “If you’re on the board of directors of an oil company, you have to be asking yourself, ‘What’s our future in a low-carbon world?’ And with this letter, I think you see these companies trying to figure it out,” said Ralph Cavanagh, energy program co-director for the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental group.

      Chevron and Exxon have also invested heavily in natural gas, which when burned in power plants produces roughly half the greenhouse gas emissions of coal. Regulations limiting emissions, including the Obama administration’s effort to cut emissions from power plants, could help them.

      “I can’t imagine that Exxon or Chevron, which are companies that would benefit from a shift to natural gas, would be privately opposed to the Clean Power Plan,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, director of the energy and sustainability program at UC Davis.

      Share...