Timeline of Mishaps

Shell:

In February, following a number of mishaps, Shell abandoned its offshore drilling programme in Alaskan Arctic waters for 2013. Some of the incidents that occurred during its recent programme are set out below.

  • January 2013

    Shell's oil rig, Kulluk, ran aground off the coast of Alaska while being towed back to harbour. It had hit heavy weather in the Gulf of Alaska a few days earlier, which caused the 400ft towing line to break and the rig to drift free. The tug managed to reconnect with the Kulluk but it then “experienced multiple engine failures” 50 miles south of Kodiak Island, causing the rig to drift free once again in 35ft seas and winds of 40mph. The rig eventually ran aground after another attempt to tow it failed. The Kulluk, which can house 108 workers, had 139,000 gallons of diesel and 12,000 gallons of hydraulic oil on board.

  • September 2012

    In December 2012 it was revealed that the oil spill containment system that Shell was supposed to have on-site in the Arctic was badly damaged in September testing. A Federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement representative disclosed that the sub-sea containment dome was “crushed like a beer can”.

  • July 15, 2012

    On 15 July 2012 Shell’s drillship Noble Discoverer, which can accommodate 124 workers, ran aground in the sheltered and relatively calm waters of Dutch Harbour, Alaska, in a 35mph wind. In November an incident occurred in the engine of the Noble Discoverer, causing a fire as it returned to Dutch Harbour, Alaska. Once there it was announced that the US Coast Guard were launching a criminal investigation into repeated safety and pollution control failures on board the drillship.

  • July 2012

    In July 2012 the US authorities announced that a key part of Shell’s oil spill response fleet hadn’t been allowed to sail to the Arctic because it did not meet US Coast Guard safety standards. The ship, Arctic Challenger, is a 36-year-old barge retrofitted to act as an oil spill containment vessel off Alaska, but the US Coast Guard were not confident it could withstand the extremely harsh Arctic environment and delayed giving final safety permits for a significant period of time.

Cairn Energy: The wild-cat British oil company unsuccessfully drilled for oil in the Arctic waters off Greenland in 2010 and 2011, spending over $1bn dollars in the process. The company repeatedly refused to publish its oil spill response plan, even though this was contrary to the international drilling standards Cairn claimed to follow. After public pressure, the Greenland government finally published the plan, revealing that any Arctic clean-up operation would grind to a halt completely in the winter months. It stated that "even in the most ideal conditions, recovery rates will never be 100 per cent and are actually more likely to be around 10 to 20 per cent." The Greenlandic economy is almost entirely dependent on fishing and the impact of a spill in its waters would be potentially catastrophic for local people.
Gazprom: The company is planning to drill in remote, technically challenging and sensitive environments such as the Prirazlomnoye field in the Arctic Pechora Sea on the northern Russian continental shelf. Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform, essentially a retrofitted decommissioned North Sea rig, has been beset by delays and repeated technical problems and has yet to begin commercial operations. In 2012 it was revealed that Gazprom planned to start operations with an expired oil response plan, even though drilling before a new plan is agreed upon with Russian authorities would likely be illegal. Additionally, Gazprom has refused to make its full spill plan public. Documents that have come to light show that the company has only planned to respond to a small oil leak, would be hard-pressed to mount a major response to any accident and only has insurance cover for environmental damage of $230,000. Given that the Prirazlomnoye field lies close to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, this figure is woefully small.

The Facts

The search for oil in the Arctic carries significant risks.  

A series of recent incidents in places like Alaska have made it clear that major oil companies are not taking the necessary steps to prevent serious spills and accidents. 

In addition, the urgent need to address climate change is not being properly factored into long term corporate strategy. 

This is putting the fragile Arctic, as well as employees, shareholders and investors at risk. We believe that all of these groups, as well as the public at large, have the right to be properly informed about what is happening.

This website is designed to enable people who have information of important public interest relating to all aspects of Arctic drilling that has not yet been revealed, to do so. This may be from an industry or scientific perspective and could relate to safety, risk or organisational culture. 

You may submit information by clicking one of the submission options to the left below the SUBMIT HERE headline. To share information anonymously you should click the top button with the closed lock. Otherwise, please feel free to contact us via twitter or email (the open lock) route.

We will do everything in our power to preserve your identity unless you do not wish to remain anonymous. We will treat any information with absolute respect.

Pleae note that Greenpeace International cannot promise to follow-up on each and every submission individually, but we will do our utmost to consider everything sent though this channel.

  • Why Blow The Whistle?

    The term ‘whistleblower’ comes from the whistle blown by a referee to highlight foul play.

    Usually anonymous, such individuals expose misconduct within or outside of companies and governments in order to prevent such abuses from happening again.

    If you have information that could prevent oil spills and accidents or reduce risks to employees, shareholders and investors, please consider sharing such information with us. We will treat any information with absolute respect.

    In this section you can read about some of the brave individuals who have already worked with Greenpeace to expose environmental scandals around the world.

  • Whale meat embezzlement and the 'Tokyo Two'

    In January 2008, Greenpeace Japan was tipped off by a concerned former whaler about wrongdoing in Japan's 'scientific' whaling programme. Amongst other things, he claimed butchers on board the whaling ships were siphoning off large quantities of prime meat and selling it for personal gain. His detailed story was backed up by another whistleblower. Greenpeace Japan began a careful investigation, and eventually managed to identify and track a shipment of stolen whale meat. One box was intercepted as proof and presented to the authorities. 

    Watch the video to learn what happened next:

    The Japanese government eventually admitted and apologised for part of the scandal.

  • Documenting the impact of unsustainable fishing methods

    More than half of the world's tuna is caught in the Pacific, often with the help of fish aggregating devices (FADs). FADs attract not only tuna, but a whole range of other marine life, which gets caught as bycatch and is thrown back into the sea dead or dying. Greenpeace has campaigned for years for an end to the use of FADs.

    In 2009, Greenpeace New Zealand was approached by a helicopter pilot turned whistleblower, who was concerned at the destruction of ocean life he had witnessed working in the Pacific. He secretly filmed how sharks, turtles, dolphins and even whales are routinely slaughtered on boats fishing with the help of FADs.

    His footage, which you can watch below, helped Greenpeace convince a number of major consumer brands to commit to go FAD-free.

  • Illegal export of e-waste to Africa exposed

    In 2007, Greenpeace UK was tipped off by a disillusioned former employee of a waste recycling site in England, who claimed a lot of the waste was not actually being recycled, but sent to Africa and dumped there. Greenpeace teamed up with Sky TV to investigate. Sky's engineers installed a GPS tracker in an old and broken TV, which was handed in for recycling. The signals from the tracker enabled the investigators to follow the TV set's movements all the way to Nigeria, where they picked it up again before it could be dumped. Eventually, eight people were convicted for illegal export of toxic waste. 

    Click here or the picture below to view a photo essay:

Frequently asked questions

  • Q. What type of information are we looking for?
    A.

    We are looking for information of important public interest relating to the safety of oil drilling in the Arctic, by any company.  

    At the moment, we have a specific interest in receiving information in connection to:

    • The circumstances surrounding the timing of the departure of Shell’s Kulluk conical drilling unit from Dutch Harbour and the consequent failure of the towing vessel Aiviq’s main engines.
    • The circumstances leading to the detention and subsequent criminal investigation of the Noble Discoverer drillship chartered by Shell to work in the offshore Arctic. 
    • Any interference with the practise or publication of science related to the impacts of oil drilling or climate change relating to the Arctic.
    • Unreasonable demands placed on subcontractors in the name of speed or cost-cutting.
    • Any technical mishaps.
    • The unique risks of operating in the Arctic environment.
    • Attempts to ‘spin’ the dangers of Arctic drilling for an investment audience.
  • Q. How should the information be gathered, what is important to look out for?
    A.

    Please try to ensure that all your information is verifiable, for example through photos (with GPS positions if possible), video, letters or emails of correspondence.  All of the information you provide us with will be handled with the utmost discretion. For more information on how your information may be used, please see the next question.

  • Q. How will your information be used?
    A.

    Depending on the information you provide, it may be used in different ways.  

    Examples include:

    • Internal intelligence gathering.
    • Evidence used in a public Greenpeace International report. 
    • Evidence used in briefings for journalists, investors or politicians.

    Depending on the nature of the information, we may seek other verification of the information from external sources.

    If we do use the information in reports or briefings, and you have asked us to protect your anonymity, we will cite the source as confidential.

  • Q. What are the risks to you if you provide us with confidential information?
    A.

    You should be aware that depending on your situation and national law, there could be legal consequences if you share information with us, particularly if by doing so you are breaching a confidentiality clause within an employment contract or a non-disclosure agreement, or exposing official secrets. 

    We believe – and the law of many countries recognises – that whistleblowing is legitimate and can make an important contribution to the public interest, provided that certain conditions are met. 

    In most countries, in order to be recognised as a legitimate whistleblower, you must try to address the issue internally in the first instance, unless that is clearly not possible. 

    You must also be acting in good faith – which means you should believe the information you are disclosing is true and something the public needs to know.

    You should not act for personal advantage or because of a personal grievance, and you should not disclose information if it causes more harm than good.

    If you have any concerns with regard to this, please speak to a lawyer within your own country before sending Greenpeace International information.

  • Q. What will Greenpeace International do to protect your anonymity?
    A.

    Greenpeace International will protect the anonymity of our sources to the maximum extent permitted by the law, and will seek to challenge any disclosure order in court. If we need to, we’ll go to jail rather than comply with an illegitimate order to disclosure our sources.

    However, we can’t offer an absolute guarantee that your identity will never, ever be disclosed. If you are worried about this please do contact us anonymously first so that we can talk you through the issues involved.

  • Q. Who runs this website?

Timeline of Mishaps

Shell:

In February, following a number of mishaps, Shell abandoned its offshore drilling programme in Alaskan Arctic waters for 2013. Some of the incidents that occurred during its recent programme are set out below.

  • January 2013

    Shell's oil rig, Kulluk, ran aground off the coast of Alaska while being towed back to harbour. It had hit heavy weather in the Gulf of Alaska a few days earlier, which caused the 400ft towing line to break and the rig to drift free. The tug managed to reconnect with the Kulluk but it then “experienced multiple engine failures” 50 miles south of Kodiak Island, causing the rig to drift free once again in 35ft seas and winds of 40mph. The rig eventually ran aground after another attempt to tow it failed. The Kulluk, which can house 108 workers, had 139,000 gallons of diesel and 12,000 gallons of hydraulic oil on board.

  • September 2012

    In December 2012 it was revealed that the oil spill containment system that Shell was supposed to have on-site in the Arctic was badly damaged in September testing. A Federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement representative disclosed that the sub-sea containment dome was “crushed like a beer can”.

  • July 15, 2012

    On 15 July 2012 Shell’s drillship Noble Discoverer, which can accommodate 124 workers, ran aground in the sheltered and relatively calm waters of Dutch Harbour, Alaska, in a 35mph wind. In November an incident occurred in the engine of the Noble Discoverer, causing a fire as it returned to Dutch Harbour, Alaska. Once there it was announced that the US Coast Guard were launching a criminal investigation into repeated safety and pollution control failures on board the drillship.

  • July 2012

    In July 2012 the US authorities announced that a key part of Shell’s oil spill response fleet hadn’t been allowed to sail to the Arctic because it did not meet US Coast Guard safety standards. The ship, Arctic Challenger, is a 36-year-old barge retrofitted to act as an oil spill containment vessel off Alaska, but the US Coast Guard were not confident it could withstand the extremely harsh Arctic environment and delayed giving final safety permits for a significant period of time.

Cairn Energy: The wild-cat British oil company unsuccessfully drilled for oil in the Arctic waters off Greenland in 2010 and 2011, spending over $1bn dollars in the process. The company repeatedly refused to publish its oil spill response plan, even though this was contrary to the international drilling standards Cairn claimed to follow. After public pressure, the Greenland government finally published the plan, revealing that any Arctic clean-up operation would grind to a halt completely in the winter months. It stated that "even in the most ideal conditions, recovery rates will never be 100 per cent and are actually more likely to be around 10 to 20 per cent." The Greenlandic economy is almost entirely dependent on fishing and the impact of a spill in its waters would be potentially catastrophic for local people.
Gazprom: The company is planning to drill in remote, technically challenging and sensitive environments such as the Prirazlomnoye field in the Arctic Pechora Sea on the northern Russian continental shelf. Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform, essentially a retrofitted decommissioned North Sea rig, has been beset by delays and repeated technical problems and has yet to begin commercial operations. In 2012 it was revealed that Gazprom planned to start operations with an expired oil response plan, even though drilling before a new plan is agreed upon with Russian authorities would likely be illegal. Additionally, Gazprom has refused to make its full spill plan public. Documents that have come to light show that the company has only planned to respond to a small oil leak, would be hard-pressed to mount a major response to any accident and only has insurance cover for environmental damage of $230,000. Given that the Prirazlomnoye field lies close to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, this figure is woefully small.
Submit Here

Being a whistleblower can be risky. Please read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) before you submit ANY information.

secure
submission
Securely upload a file: Before you do this, we strongly recommend you download TOR, which is free, open source software that protects your identity by encrypting your web traffic. You can download the TOR Browser Bundle by clicking HERE . Don’t include any personally identifying information, either in the files you upload, the names of the files, or in any comments. We strongly recommend sending any documents from your home NOT work computer.
Send physical documents in the mail. Pleae put your information and evidence in an envelope, inside a second envelope.
The inner envelope should state its contents is confidential and marked for the attention of the 'Greenpeace International Polar Investigations Team'.
The outer envelope should be addressed to
Greenpeace UK
Canonbury Villas
London, N1 2PN
email/twitter
submission

The Facts

The search for oil in the Arctic carries significant risks.  

A series of recent incidents in places like Alaska have made it clear that major oil companies are not taking the necessary steps to prevent serious spills and accidents. 

In addition, the urgent need to address climate change is not being properly factored into long term corporate strategy. 

This is putting the fragile Arctic, as well as employees, shareholders and investors at risk. We believe that all of these groups, as well as the public at large, have the right to be properly informed about what is happening.

This website is designed to enable people who have information of important public interest relating to all aspects of Arctic drilling that has not yet been revealed, to do so. This may be from an industry or scientific perspective and could relate to safety, risk or organisational culture. 

You may submit information by clicking one of the submission options to the left below the SUBMIT HERE headline. To share information anonymously you should click the top button with the closed lock. Otherwise, please feel free to contact us via twitter or email (the open lock) route.

We will do everything in our power to preserve your identity unless you do not wish to remain anonymous. We will treat any information with absolute respect.

Pleae note that Greenpeace International cannot promise to follow-up on each and every submission individually, but we will do our utmost to consider everything sent though this channel.

  • Why Blow The Whistle?

    The term ‘whistleblower’ comes from the whistle blown by a referee to highlight foul play.

    Usually anonymous, such individuals expose misconduct within or outside of companies and governments in order to prevent such abuses from happening again.

    If you have information that could prevent oil spills and accidents or reduce risks to employees, shareholders and investors, please consider sharing such information with us. We will treat any information with absolute respect.

    In this section you can read about some of the brave individuals who have already worked with Greenpeace to expose environmental scandals around the world.

  • Whale meat embezzlement and the 'Tokyo Two'

    In January 2008, Greenpeace Japan was tipped off by a concerned former whaler about wrongdoing in Japan's 'scientific' whaling programme. Amongst other things, he claimed butchers on board the whaling ships were siphoning off large quantities of prime meat and selling it for personal gain. His detailed story was backed up by another whistleblower. Greenpeace Japan began a careful investigation, and eventually managed to identify and track a shipment of stolen whale meat. One box was intercepted as proof and presented to the authorities. 

    Watch the video to learn what happened next:

    The Japanese government eventually admitted and apologised for part of the scandal.

  • Documenting the impact of unsustainable fishing methods

    More than half of the world's tuna is caught in the Pacific, often with the help of fish aggregating devices (FADs). FADs attract not only tuna, but a whole range of other marine life, which gets caught as bycatch and is thrown back into the sea dead or dying. Greenpeace has campaigned for years for an end to the use of FADs.

    In 2009, Greenpeace New Zealand was approached by a helicopter pilot turned whistleblower, who was concerned at the destruction of ocean life he had witnessed working in the Pacific. He secretly filmed how sharks, turtles, dolphins and even whales are routinely slaughtered on boats fishing with the help of FADs.

    His footage, which you can watch below, helped Greenpeace convince a number of major consumer brands to commit to go FAD-free.

  • Illegal export of e-waste to Africa exposed

    In 2007, Greenpeace UK was tipped off by a disillusioned former employee of a waste recycling site in England, who claimed a lot of the waste was not actually being recycled, but sent to Africa and dumped there. Greenpeace teamed up with Sky TV to investigate. Sky's engineers installed a GPS tracker in an old and broken TV, which was handed in for recycling. The signals from the tracker enabled the investigators to follow the TV set's movements all the way to Nigeria, where they picked it up again before it could be dumped. Eventually, eight people were convicted for illegal export of toxic waste. 

    Click here or the picture below to view a photo essay:

Frequently asked questions

  • Q. What type of information are we looking for?
    A.

    We are looking for information of important public interest relating to the safety of oil drilling in the Arctic, by any company.  

    At the moment, we have a specific interest in receiving information in connection to:

    • The circumstances surrounding the timing of the departure of Shell’s Kulluk conical drilling unit from Dutch Harbour and the consequent failure of the towing vessel Aiviq’s main engines.
    • The circumstances leading to the detention and subsequent criminal investigation of the Noble Discoverer drillship chartered by Shell to work in the offshore Arctic. 
    • Any interference with the practise or publication of science related to the impacts of oil drilling or climate change relating to the Arctic.
    • Unreasonable demands placed on subcontractors in the name of speed or cost-cutting.
    • Any technical mishaps.
    • The unique risks of operating in the Arctic environment.
    • Attempts to ‘spin’ the dangers of Arctic drilling for an investment audience.
  • Q. How should the information be gathered, what is important to look out for?
    A.

    Please try to ensure that all your information is verifiable, for example through photos (with GPS positions if possible), video, letters or emails of correspondence.  All of the information you provide us with will be handled with the utmost discretion. For more information on how your information may be used, please see the next question.

  • Q. How will your information be used?
    A.

    Depending on the information you provide, it may be used in different ways.  

    Examples include:

    • Internal intelligence gathering.
    • Evidence used in a public Greenpeace International report. 
    • Evidence used in briefings for journalists, investors or politicians.

    Depending on the nature of the information, we may seek other verification of the information from external sources.

    If we do use the information in reports or briefings, and you have asked us to protect your anonymity, we will cite the source as confidential.

  • Q. What are the risks to you if you provide us with confidential information?
    A.

    You should be aware that depending on your situation and national law, there could be legal consequences if you share information with us, particularly if by doing so you are breaching a confidentiality clause within an employment contract or a non-disclosure agreement, or exposing official secrets. 

    We believe – and the law of many countries recognises – that whistleblowing is legitimate and can make an important contribution to the public interest, provided that certain conditions are met. 

    In most countries, in order to be recognised as a legitimate whistleblower, you must try to address the issue internally in the first instance, unless that is clearly not possible. 

    You must also be acting in good faith – which means you should believe the information you are disclosing is true and something the public needs to know.

    You should not act for personal advantage or because of a personal grievance, and you should not disclose information if it causes more harm than good.

    If you have any concerns with regard to this, please speak to a lawyer within your own country before sending Greenpeace International information.

  • Q. What will Greenpeace International do to protect your anonymity?
    A.

    Greenpeace International will protect the anonymity of our sources to the maximum extent permitted by the law, and will seek to challenge any disclosure order in court. If we need to, we’ll go to jail rather than comply with an illegitimate order to disclosure our sources.

    However, we can’t offer an absolute guarantee that your identity will never, ever be disclosed. If you are worried about this please do contact us anonymously first so that we can talk you through the issues involved.

  • Q. Who runs this website?
ArcticTruth.org is a project of
Greenpeace
Greenpeace International, Ottho Heldringstaat 5, 1066 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands