Shell's Arctic Oil Drilling Launch Party Was Literally a Disaster

Logan Price, Twitter/via

After spending $4 billion and countless man-hours lobbying to be the first to drill in the Arctic, Shell is gearing up to head north. As in, right now. The oil giant plans to start drilling wells off Alaska's northern shores by July.

And apparently Shell's in quite the celebratory mood. Yesterday, the company threw a private party in Seattle's Space Needle—close to where its northbound rig is docked—to commemorate the launch of its North Arctic drilling operations. But if the events that unfolded last night are any kind of a portent, said drilling operations could easily be a colossal mess.

Occupy Seattle has a post up documenting a very bizarre party fail, thanks to Logan Price, an activist who managed to sneak himself onto the guest list.

Once there, he tweeted pics from inside and caught some truly embarrassing moments on video before getting kicked out. Logan says that just before he was expelled, Shell's party was already going badly wrong, with screaming arguments, an overturned table, and frazzled guests evacuating in droves from the Seattle landmark.

Via Occupy:

It all started with a malfunction.... of the event's centerpiece, a scale model of the Kulluk, one of the rigs heading up north, which was sitting in a basin of liquor (rum and coke?) next to an ice sculpture in the shape of an iceberg.

Logan goes on to say:

I guess the photo-op was meant to be a symbolic tapping of the Arctic. There was a ridiculous three-foot-high scale model of their Arctic drilling rig, the Kulluk, and the mini-rig had a tap to pump liquor for the guests.

The guest of honor was an elderly Japanese man introduced as the original Chief Engineer of the Kulluk rig who used to work at Mitsui back in the '80s. But when the man went to turn on the ‘rig,’ the liquor went everywhere - and the first to be hit was another elderly guest, the widow of the man who'd actually designed the Kulluk back in the 1980s.

The guy in charge kept asking the old engineer to fix it but he obviously had no idea how to turn it off. Shell's PR people got REALLY worked up, and the designer’s widow started yelling. At this point the guy who was presenting the new ad campaign told me to turn off my camera and got pretty aggressive.

Everything about this is, quite frankly, hilarious. Beyond any satisfaction gleaned from seeing such a preposterous party come to a disastrous end, metaphors abound, and they're about as subtle as a sledgehammer: if Shell can't even handle a three-foot replica of a rig that pumps booze, how is the company going to fare in the Arctic deep?

Tags: Arctic | Oil

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