The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today approved Shell's revised multi-year Exploration Plan (EP) for the Chukchi Sea–with significant conditions.  Find complete information here.

Our Weekend Shell Links

Our Friday Shell Report: "Danger Stranger"

Comment:  If Seattle's mayor succeeds in influencing local, independent decision making of the Port of Seattle, we have commented that unanticipated reactions could occur.  

Tomorrow, the Port of Seattle commissioners will hear testimony on their provision of dock space for support of Shell Oil's summer exploration program in Alaska's Arctic.  (Here is the comment we offered commissioners.)

Successful exploration could well mean rejuvenation for the Alaska oil pipeline, now 3/4 empty.  It provides transportation of Alaska North Slope oil upon which over a third of Alaska's economy and 90% of Alaska's state operating budget are based.  It also affects Alaska's business relationships nation- and world-wide.

The mayor believes that stopping Seattle's support of Alaska oil exploration will support his view of "climate change".

Due process, and the rule of law, which we have discussed during the last week are delicate but critical parts of the economic ecosystem.

If citizens and business can no longer trust due process to be just, reasonable, independent and reliable — among other adjectives — the whole relationship between the public and the government becomes clouded with mistrust and hostility.

Last week we noted the interdependence of many Seattle/Alaska relationships, including the fact that the tourism, ship container, air and cruise traffic, commercial fishing and logistical support are all — to one extent or another — dependent on oil production to subsidize all manner of public services.

Seattle citizens should recognize that Alaskans, their Constitution and statehood act all rely on natural resource development for economic survival.  Kill Alaska oil and gas activity and one kills the majority of Alaska commerce upon which a good deal of the Seattle economy is based.  

Underlining the importance of Alaska support for Shell's activity are the overwhelming majority of Alaskan businesses as represented by the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, Alaska Support Industry Alliance and Resource Development Council for Alaska (i.e. whose alert notice we use below.)

Accordingly, supporting Arctic energy exploration is not merely a politician's 'climate change' issue: it is also an 'economy change' issue that can affect all Alaskans and all Seattle citizens, directly and indirectly.

It is fine if a port announces its use priority and that priority precludes our type of use.  It is not fine if a port agrees to a use then bows to pressure to change the use priority after a new client has depended on its availability and undertaken costly plans.

It is fine when special interests get upset with an objective and reliable decision, as when the Port of Seattle agreed to have Shell's contractor make arrangements for seaport services.  It is not fine when special interests then seek to overturn a Port decision using the power of raw politics.

It is fine for a mayor to have personal opinions about the environment, the economy, religion and politics.  It is not fine for a mayor to manipulate due process in pursuit of his personal agenda.

So far, the Commissioners have been resolute ("…we are united in our determination to honor the terms of that lease.   Doing otherwise would irreparably damage the Port’s reputation….").  We respect their integrity.

The venerable Seattle Times agrees with the importance of maintaining contract integrity and reputation.

We believe that most thinking citizens would prefer to have fair but firm adults, like the current group, running the critical port activities and other public services.

In fact, having public servants with less character would put the finances and reputation of government operations in jeopardy.

Click here to find out how to comment on the matter before TOMORROW'S 1 p.m. Commission meeting of the Port of Seattle.  We also provide you with the meeting agenda and a link to tomorrow's online, live streaming video coverage of the meeting.

-dh  (In the interest of accuracy, please send us any factual additions/corrections so that we may make immediate corrections and preserve the most accurate reports for the archives.)




ALERT: Please comment today on tomorrow's meeting of Port of Seattle Commissioners!  Here is the agenda and other meeting information.   The Alert below is provided courtesy of the Resource Development Council for Alaska (RDC).  Watch the meeting online tomorrow via live streaming here at 1 p.m. Seattle time.  You can read our comment to Commissioners, here.  -dh

RDC Overview:
In a politically motivated effort to hamper Arctic offshore oil and gas development, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is pressuring the Port of Seattle to pause and reconsider plans to use Terminal 5 to support the staging of Shell’s Arctic exploration equipment. Shell will be using space at Terminal 5 over the next two to four years for seasonal staging and maintenance of its fleet. However, Mayor Murray and the Seattle City Council is moving to block Shell and scuttle the port’s lease with Shell’s partner, Foss Maritime.

If the city’s move to derail the lease is successful, such action would set a dangerous precedent and send a message that Seattle is closed to business. Furthermore, it creates uncertainty and sends a signal to maritime companies that a lease with the Port may be targeted by special interests and local politicians in the eleventh hour, even as vessels are en route to the region.

Since 1987, Shell has successfully drilled 11 wells offshore in the Alaska Arctic. With today’s even stricter safety standards and regulation, exploration can and will be done safely.

Action requested:
Support Foss Maritime's Lease of Terminal 5 and its efforts to create jobs and make upgrades to the Port. This lease and the necessary upgrades support offshore drilling in Alaska, which will directly benefit Washington’s economy. Tell Port of Seattle Commissioners to uphold their decision to support Puget Sound’s maritime industry.

Email Port commissioners today:

Call the main switchboard and ask for the Commission at (206) 787-3000.

Send letters to:
Port of Seattle Commissioners
P.O. Box 1209
Seattle, WA 98111

Points to consider for your comments:

  • The port made the right decision to support the maritime industry, local trades, and businesses by approving Foss’s lease of Terminal 5. Foss has also agreed to pay for much needed port upgrades, making this a no-cost proposition for taxpayers. The project is an important job generator. Foss Maritime’s work at Terminal 5 has already put 417 people to work in Port Angeles and Seattle – supporting more than 1,000 jobs for the Puget Sound region.
  • For Seattle to remain a thriving and viable maritime city, it cannot continue to set a hostile tone toward the port, the maritime sector, and Alaska, one of its most important trading partners.
  • The maritime industry and the port must have regulatory certainty at all levels of government to maintain global competitiveness and protect middle class jobs at the core of the industry.
  • The port is focused on key trade, transportation and travel in the Pacific Northwest, supporting diverse industries and running efficient operations, while improving and protecting Puget Sound’s multi-billion dollar economic relationship with Alaska.
  • If the port’s lease with Shell and Foss Maritime is blocked, it would set a dangerous precedent targeting fossil fuel industries and tarnishing the reputation of Seattle’s port.
  • Alaska and Puget Sound share a dynamic and diverse economic relationship strengthened by air and sea shipping, seafood, petroleum, and tourism. Alaska’s contribution to the Puget Sound economy accounted for 113,000 jobs in the region and $6.2 billion in labor earnings in 2013.
  • Oil and gas production is the foundation of Alaska’s economy. Arctic oil development has the potential to refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and sustain the state’s economy through much of the 21st century. A strong Alaska economy will greatly benefit the Puget Sound region.
  • Of all cargo movement between the Port of Seattle and Alaska, 80 percent is transported north. Large projects in Alaska, including new mining and oil and gas operations, directly benefit both the Alaska and Puget Sound economies in multiple ways.
  • Alaska supplies nearly half of all crude oil refined in Puget Sound. An estimated 12,000 Puget Sound jobs and $780 million in labor earnings are connected with refining Alaska oil.
  • Offshore development in the Alaska Arctic has the potential to be a significant contributor to our nation’s energy security, as well as a significant source of long-term jobs for Americans. It is estimated that economic activity from the development of Arctic energy resources would create an annual average of 54,700 jobs nationwide with a cumulative payroll of $154 billion over the next 50 years.
  • 35 exploration wells have been drilled offshore in the Alaska Arctic. In 1964, Shell was the first operator to install a platform and produce hydrocarbons in Cook Inlet, and since 1987, Shell has successfully drilled 11 wells offshore in the Alaska Arctic. With today’s even stricter safety standards and regulation, exploration can and will be done safely.


Dave Harbour's Comment to Commissioners is below, and we will be delighted and honored to print your testimony or other communication, for our archives.  Please send here.)

From: DaveHarbour . daveharbour@zzzzz

5:15 PM (0 minutes ago)

Subject: Temporary Use of Port Facilities
Dear Commissioners:
Having served as an Alaska State Regulatory Commissioner and an Anchorage Land Commissioner I am familiar with the complex issues that come before a group like yours.  Decisions you make affect hundreds of thousands of lives and, indeed, the future of Seattle.  They also affect the future of Alaska.
This is to compliment you on your Joint Commission position statement regarding this matter.  It signals all of your watchful constituencies that your decisions are carefully made and that once made they are faithfully observed. 
Please accept my best wishes for a useful meeting tomorrow.
Thank you for your service.


Dave Harbour

Publisher, Northern Gas Pipelines

Commissioner Emeritus, NARUC