The oil companies are at it again: they're trying to drill another deep water well off the Shetland Islands. Let's stop them.
A few months ago we mobilised together to stop Chevron drilling the first deep water oil well in UK waters after the Gulf of Mexico disaster.
We succeeded in delaying the drilling for over a week, and are currently in the middle of legal battle with the government over its plan to allow more new drill permits. The news now is that another US oil company, Hess, wants to work with Chevron to drill at another site in the deep waters off the Shetland Islands, called Cambo 4.
You probably remember Anais and Victor scrambling up the anchor chain of the Stena Carron, Chevron’s massive drill ship, followed by the occupation of the chain with the legendary yellow pod. You might even remember our last-ditch efforts to stop the Stena Carron reaching the drill site, jumping in front of the moving ship. Sixteen hours bobbing in front of the steel behemoth has certainly left its impressions on me.
The thousands of emails that you sent to energy secretary Chris Huhne were a huge morale boost for those of us on the Esperanza and also told the government that we don’t want dangerous deepwater drilling in UK waters. Certainly not until we’ve learned the lessons of the Gulf of Mexico.
There’s little doubt in my mind that the government now knows how much pressure we can bring, which is why they’ve done their best to hide the public consultation notice (which they’re legally obliged to publish) in the corner of page 42 of the Independent on 14 January this year (see pic on the right). They also allow people to read the Hess report on the potential environmental impacts of the new well in the Aberdeen and Lerwick public libraries (only between 10am to 4pm on workdays, mind).
Well, they didn’t manage to hide it from us and we’ve dug out the details for you. You can submit your own views on this drilling license to the government and make this consultation truly public.
If there’s a shred of doubt in your mind about the importance of this, take a look at Hess’ own modelling of a possible spill scenario, which has oil choking the coastlines of Ireland, Scotland and reaching as far south as the Norfolk coast. Not to mention spreading as far as Iceland, Germany and even the far north of Norway.
Hess admits that, in a worse-case scenario, a spill at Cambo 4 would be as large as that of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Yet the area around the proposed drill site is home to over 20 species of dolphin and whales, many of which are under threat of extinction. The 48 species of seabird from fulmars to razorbills as well as the otters that live in the area could all be caught up in a spill.
And that’s before we consider the global consequences of continuing to burn oil, from climate refugees to a rapidly melting Arctic.