energy

U.S. Coast Guard Photo/Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis

Shell Oil Co. has put Arctic drilling on hold. The company announced Wednesday that it will not attempt to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean this year. The announcement comes after a year of accidents and setbacks for Shell’s Arctic drilling efforts.

The Price Of North Dakota's Oil Boom

Feb 21, 2013
North Dakota oil field sunrise
Flickr photo/Adam Schreiner

North Dakota is booming. The state's unemployment rate is just 3.2 percent — well below the national average of 7.9 percent. Officials are trying to keep pace with a population surge brought on by oil industry jobs that have made North Dakota the country's number two oil-producing state. But what will extracting millions of barrels from the Bakken oil field mean for the region's environmental and economic future? Writer and reporter Richard Manning joins us with the story of North Dakota's oil boom.

Wikimedia Commons

UPDATE: Shell plans to use three tugs to tow the damaged Kulluk oil rig to Dutch Harbor in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, where it will await a longer trip to an unnamed Asian drydock. Shell and the US Coast Guard have disbanded the joint command formed after the Seattle-bound rig broke free from its sole tugboat, then ran aground. Officials said the Kulluk's outer hull was damaged but not breached. They did not specify the degree of damage, saying only, "The outer hull did receive damage as expected with a vessel being aground during adverse weather." 

Update at 2:25 p.m. ET. It's Official:

Praising Sally Jewell as an executive who turned outdoors equipment retailer REI into one of the nation's most successful and environmentally conscious companies, President Obama just said he is nominating her to be his next interior secretary.

Noting that Jewell, who in a previous job worked as an engineer for Mobil, has also climbed mountains in Antarctica, the president joked about that being "just not something I think of doing."

Our original post:

ABERDEEN, Wash. – The Northwest is on the verge of becoming a gateway for crude oil. Three different developers have plans to use docks on Grays Harbor, Washington to transfer crude oil from trains to ships. Other projects are getting off the ground in Tacoma, Vancouver, B.C. and on the lower Columbia River.

There was a huge turnout Wednesday night at an introductory public workshop in Aberdeen, Washington. The response indicates crude-by-rail may be the region’s next big environmental controversy.

Energy expert Amory Lovins says the United States can replace all oil and coal by the year 2050, without nuclear power, new federal taxes or subsidies, or new inventions. At the same time, we can grow the US economy by 158 percent.

U.S. Coast Guard

The Obama administration launched a sweeping inquiry into Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling program on Tuesday. The probe, to be completed within 60 days, will look at the company’s mishaps in Alaska and in Puget Sound.

The announcement from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar comes a week after Shell’s Kulluk oil rig ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska.

Kulluk aground
Travis Marsh, U.S. Coast Guard.

A shipwrecked oil rig that was bound for Seattle has been floated off the rocks and towed to a safe harbor in the Gulf of Alaska. A fleet of nine ships accompanied Shell Oil’s Kulluk drill rig on the 45-mile tow. Shortly before noon Pacific Time, the rig reached its anchorage in sheltered Kiliuda Bay on Kodiak Island.  

Aaron Kunz

Cloud seeding has been around for decades. It started out as a way to make rain for growing crops. But these days in the Mountain West, it’s used as a way to make more snow.

Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis / US Coast Guard

UPDATE: The Kulluk ran aground late Monday night, with 150,000 gallons of diesel and oil on board.

A floating oil rig that was abandoned on Saturday in heavy seas in the Gulf of Alaska is being towed away from land — a second time.

Historic gas pump
John Ryan

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn wants the city to get its money out of fossil fuels. He has called on the city’s two main retirement funds to divest millions of dollars invested in oil and gas companies.

T.J. Guiton

The Arctic Challenger left Puget Sound's Bellingham Bay Wednesday night and arrived at a deep-water anchorage near Anacortes, Wash., Thursday morning. The barge is part of Shell Oil’s fleet of vessels aimed at exploring the Arctic Ocean for oil.

The Arctic Challenger’s oil-spill containment system failed its first field test off Anacortes in September. Since then, Shell has rebuilt a 20-foot oil-containment dome that was “crushed like a beer can” in the first test.

Noah Berger / AP Photo

Energy expert Amory Lovins outlines a path to eliminate use of oil and coal in the United States by the year 2050 in his new book "Reinventing Fire." Lovins says the path will grow the US economy by 158 percent, and it can happen with no new federal taxes or subsidies.

Ross Reynolds talks with Rocky Mountain Institute co-founder Amory Lovins about energy independence.

Damaged oil-spill containment dome
BSEE (via KUOW FOIA request)

A KUOW investigation has led a top congressman to demand answers about Shell Oil's underwater accident this fall in Puget Sound.

As we reported on Friday, an underwater test near Anacortes left Shell's first-of-its-kind oil-spill equipment “crushed like a beer can.”

Damaged oil-spill containment dome
BSEE (via KUOW FOIA request)

UPDATE on Congressional interest in this story here.

Shell Oil has been building and testing equipment designed for the Arctic Ocean here in Puget Sound. In September, a key test of underwater oil-spill equipment was a spectacular failure.

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