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Shell Oil Keeps Digging

At a certain point, any decision which backfires stops being excusable. Stops being inexcusable and eventually becomes embarrassing.

Shell Oil has managed to transcend even the embarrassing stage and is now existing in a pure lunacy stage where embarrassing cannot reach it. Further, embarrassment requires that one knows better from worse, right from wrong, and ultimately, it is difficult to discern if the executives of Shell Oil do know basic tenants of morality.

On the last day of 2012, December 31st, the Shell oil rig “Kulluk” ran aground off the coast of Alaska off of Kodiak Island, prompting a 500-plus person response. The grounding, according to Shell Operations Manager Sean Churchfield, occurred during a fierce storm which produced near-hurricane-force seas exceeding 40 feet at times, and wind gusts of 50 knots and higher.

It is understandable, and even excusable for disaster to strike during that type of weather. However, there are means of forecasting weather at sea, and there are also steps to avoid turbulent weather. What makes matters worse is the Kulluk didn’t need to be in that weather at all.

In fact, it was due to Alaskan taxes, which Shell was fully aware of, which lead to the Kulluk being in the middle of awful weather.

A Shell spokesman confirmed a Unalaska elected official’s claim that the Dec. 21st departure of the Kulluk from Unalaska/Dutch Harbor involved taxation. City Councilor David Gregory said Shell would pay between $6 million and $7 million in state taxes if the Kulluk was still in Alaska on January 1st.

In an effort to avoid paying a minute amount of money of taxes compared to the billions of dollars in profits Shell Oil makes in a year, the company decided it would be wiser to take the massive risk of moving the Kulluk in treacherous weather.

Ironically, the company will likely spend more money fixing their mistakes than the taxes could ever cost.

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