Shell drilling fleet @ Terminal 5: West Seattle rally, march Sunday

Though the Port of Seattle‘s Terminal 5, expected to host part of Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet, is in West Seattle, the challenges to the lease have mostly been taking place elsewhere – in public-comment periods at Port Commission meetings, and in legal action at the King County Courthouse. This Sunday, that changes, with a rally in The Junction followed by a march to Terminal 5. Stu Hennessey sent the announcement:

What: Large turnout expected to encourage the Port of Seattle to rescind the lease agreement with Foss Marine and Shell Oil for Terminal 5 in West Seattle. A march will be made after the monthly “All Walk Encouragement Rally”

Where: The West Seattle Alaska Junction

12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Press Availability
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Event and march
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM Speakers and rally

This will be a 1.5 mile march from the Alaska Junction in West Seattle to the entrance to Terminal 5. The March will follow the monthly “All Walk Encouragement Rally” which takes place at SW Alaska and California Ave. SW in West Seattle.

To recap the backstory and where things stand:

The port closed Terminal 5 last summer and announced plans for a modernization project to make it able to handle the big new “post-Panamax” ships. But that work wasn’t starting immediately, so it sought an interim tenant.

After months of closed-doors talks, the Port Commission’s January 13th agenda, made public less than a week earlier, revealed the planned lease with Foss, who would host part of Shell’s fleet, with the oil company expecting to get permission to try Arctic drilling again this summer. The commission doesn’t usually vote on leases, but did take a sort of vote, with three supporting proceeding with it, two against it. CEO Ted Fick announced in a February 11th letter to the environmental coalition opposing it that he had signed it two days earlier. Since then, the lease has dominated the public-comment period at the past two commission meetings, both of which we covered – March 10 here, March 24th here. Commissioners, even the two who say they didn’t support it – co-president Courtney Gregoire and Tom Albro – say they don’t support rescinding it.

Meantime, a legal challenge is proceeding. And while there’s been no public description yet of exactly which Shell vessels are expected at Terminal 5 and when, it’s widely reported that the drill ship Noble Discoverer and the platform Polar Pioneer are part of it. Greenpeace has its vessel Esperanza following the Polar Pioneer, which is atop a carry ship called Blue Marlin, and chronicling it all on this website, where it says Blue Marlin/Polar Pioneer is on a course for Mexico. Its last filed itinerary, according to, has it due in Port Angeles on April 12th. The Esperanza crew says it talked with the ship by radio and was asked to keep a mile away; that reminded us of 2012, when Shell’s last Arctic drilling attempt was preceded by Esperanza visiting here:

At the time, you might recall, Noble Discoverer was at Vigor on Harbor Island along with the drill rig Kulluk. Both later encountered trouble. Now, more than two years later, the federal government’s formal approval of Shell’s Arctic drilling is apparently imminent.

31 Replies to "Shell drilling fleet @ Terminal 5: West Seattle rally, march Sunday"

  • Mike March 30, 2015 (7:56 pm)


  • G March 30, 2015 (7:56 pm)

    Sorry, but putting a cute photo of a polar bear on your leaflet to arouse some emotional response won’t cut it. Just the facts, ma’am. And the facts are that the demise of polar bears due to global warming has been grossly overstated; they are not near extinction, in fact their numbers are quite healthy. This is even old for the alarmists.

  • cj March 30, 2015 (9:38 pm)

    According to wiki the Polar bear is expected to loose two thirds of its population by 2050 and much of that problem along with other wildlife and habitat threats are directly connected to the oil industry. Also the seal population that makes up much of polar bear hunting will likely lower to the point of the bears eating more salmon like other bears have. The health and welfare of our high hunter species are a primary way to judge the health and welfare of an ecosystem. We are beyond the point of just being alarmist, we are at the point of protecting our selves an earth mammal who’s dietary needs and air, water and soil needs are in danger. None of us can live off oil when oil extraction and production has damaged so much of our earth system. We need to remember though that somebody got elected to a spot to push this through and is obviously not what we thought they were.

  • Nora March 30, 2015 (10:40 pm)

    There’s just one thing that everyone seems to overlook when they start talking about saving the planet- if the Port breaks this lease, Shell will just go elsewhere. They will continue to drill in the Arctic because that’s how they make their money and are able to provide 50,000+ jobs. They’ll find a port that is thrilled to have revenue and a city grateful for the jobs the lease provides. We can encourage policy changes on a Federal level to outlaw Arctic drilling if the polar bears really are that important. In the meantime, let’s take the money and the jobs and give the local economy a boost.

  • La March 30, 2015 (10:44 pm)

    Animals and our environment need to be protected at all cost. We have one planet. If it dies then we die.

  • Sonoma March 30, 2015 (11:28 pm)

    “On March 22, The Stranger posted leaked audio of a talk Port of Seattle commissioner Bill Bryant had given three days earlier at an Evergreen Republican Women’s Club meeting in Everett. When one audience member asked Bryant about the port’s controversial decision to host Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet in Seattle, he mocked Seattleites who’ve protested the port’s secretive dealings on this issue and made light of the potential environmental impacts of Arctic drilling.”

  • Sonoma March 30, 2015 (11:29 pm)

    Mike and G, you two depress me.

  • Steve March 31, 2015 (6:43 am)

    As usual, everyone wants to talk about oil drilling, no one wants to talk about population control.

  • Mark March 31, 2015 (6:47 am)

    The oil that meets the demand our community creates is increasingly shifting from Alaska arctic crude to North Dakota fracked crude as Alaska exports decline. For every well they drill in Alaska they need to drill 5,000 wells for fracked oil. The carbon footprint created in transporting North Dakota crude is several times greater than Alaska crude. This does not include the fact they are still flaring the natural gas byproduct in North Dakota.

    Lets all decrease our oil consumption, but until we figure out a replacement lets be smart and debate facts about the oil we use. This is the basis of our national energy policy.

  • Rick March 31, 2015 (7:57 am)

    The earth will be just fine. It was fine before we were here and will be fine long after we’re gone. Get over your condescending,self-righteous sanctimonious selves. It will be just fine.

  • MFW March 31, 2015 (8:20 am)

    Emotions and activism are wonderful. But the Port has an obligation to pay its bills. Nora is spot-on…Shell will drill, based out of Terminal 5 or not.
    These exploratory wells will not be put into production for many years; and our obstinate focus on the arctic and oil tankers has driven production to Fracking-based wells that produce volatile product that must (thanks to emotionally charged opposition to pipelines) be shipped via the most dangerous and highest carbon producing method…rail. Wake up folks, until one of us can wave a magic wand and suddenly shift our population and industrial base to a petroleum-free economy… We will be faced with cutting our noses off in spite, by running good investment and business out of town in a vain attempt to slow the continued quest for petroleum, or accepting the business, and continuing to push for innovative, realistic solutions to our environmental concerns.

  • colleen March 31, 2015 (8:38 am)

    Rick, you are ignorant, condescending and entirely wrong.

  • alan March 31, 2015 (9:45 am)

    U arent gonna beat shell. At least if it is here there can be close oversight and possible concessions on unsafe practices. Why would u pass the buck to the next port that that could care less? Oh ya and tons of family wage jobs and revenue for our states largest economic driver (the port). Open your eyes

  • BTsea March 31, 2015 (10:37 am)

    Considering that Shell will undoubtedly find a place to service their vessels, I want it to happen here where we have some of the most qualified environmental professionals in the world to ensure it is done in the safest and most environmentally protective ways possible. Also, Ecology, EPA, the City, and citizen watch groups already have a track record in recent years of forcing industry to comply with water quality regulations that are among the most stringent in the U.S.

  • observer March 31, 2015 (11:08 am)

    I wonder how many marchers will drive to and from the rally, and how far. It would also be interesting to see a counter-protest by the longshoremen.

  • Tom March 31, 2015 (3:25 pm)

    Hey folks, yea the ones that need to protest and complain about the recovery of a Natural Resource – Oil.

    On your way to the protest please drop off all your vehicles, computers, iphones and most everything in your house hold at the terminal and I will dispose of them for you.

    Or better yet, lets just make sure we all become good stewards of this Natural Resource and recover the oil we need to run this FAT Nation, the safest most economical way we can.

    I think it would better use of your time to just go for a walk and reduce some of this FAT.

    I don’t see anybody Marching on that Giant Broken down machine drilling a Giant Hole thru the middle down town Seattle, maybe just take walk down there and have a look at that thing.

    Oil is a commodity that we need to continue to move forward, we either find it in our back yard, or we pay dearly for it from other nations.

    Get off your soap boxes just to complain and start using your intelligence to create an alternative if you are so against oil.

    Because protesting and stopping the forward progress is only hurting this State and this Nation. Go protest for the homeless, under paid teachers, the abuse to our elders in hospital or the ISIS killing people.

    But this to Protest about is Sad, go play with your kids and enjoy the modern marvels that we can create.

    I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I enjoy my things that Oil helps produce.

    Have fun, dream big and add to this world :) !

  • Mike March 31, 2015 (3:47 pm)

    Tom Well said!
    Drill baby! Drill! For our future and our kids future.

  • West Seattle Hipster March 31, 2015 (4:15 pm)

    When this topic arises, I am reminded of what the great George Carlin has to say on the subject, at about 1:28 in:



    “Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven’t learned how to care for one another, and we’re going to save the planet?”

  • VVT March 31, 2015 (4:58 pm)

    I agree that dependency on petroleum products is a problem. But I wish, instead of protesting, we would funnel our time, energy, and money towards finding an alternative. In all likelihood, Arctic drilling will continue. Protesting does serve to bring awareness to an issue. This is certainly positive, but I doubt that forcing awareness will open up very many eyes of people that weren’t already going to be enlightened one way or another. I doubt it will change many minds of the people who are pro-Arctic drilling. I doubt, in short, its effectiveness in doing anything but causing traffic problems and driving away business from a city whose economy is dependent on commerce.

  • alkistu April 1, 2015 (3:33 pm)

    To make things a little more clear there are some points to make.
    1. We don’t like the term protest. That was used by WSB. Are position is to encourage, therefore “All Walk Encouragement Rally” as we enter the Jct. intersection only during the All Walk traffic signal we make friends not enemies.
    2. Shell oil is the last big oil company that finds it worthwhile to explore the arctic. All of the other companies have pulled out because of the high cost.
    3. Dutch Harbor is the last place other than Terminal 5 to store this drilling equipment. Shell Oil has rejected that option because of the severe weather and Terminal 5 is there last hope.
    4. Currently there is more oil being produced than we can store. This is thanks to you and the growing conservative majority that say conservation and less consumption of our natural resources is their focus to save money, to be more in line with conservative values and as you say in some cases “to save the earth”
    5. The 500 jobs that would be created seems very inflated for storing drilling equipment. Even if that figure proves true it still pales to the new job creation through renewable energies. Both Forbes and Bloomberg report that renewable energy job growth is out pacing the Fossil Fuel industry despite their enjoying 50 times the government support.
    6. This effectively erases the daily efforts and sacrifices made by the earth lovin people of this region. This was done in secrecy for a reason
    7. If you think the will of the people is ineffective take a look at Indiana and the reaction to their new laws.

    Please join us if you truly want your voice to be heard.

  • WSB April 1, 2015 (4:02 pm)

    Just for the record: No, actually, we did NOT use the word “protest.” It does not appear anywhere in our story based on your announcement. Not deliberate – it would be an accurate way to describe an expression of opposition – but I just doublechecked with the “find” function and I did not use it at all. Multiple commenters have used it in their comments but they are readers, not staffers, and that is *their* choice of word. I describe it as a “rally” and “march.” – TR

  • marianne April 1, 2015 (4:10 pm)

    Thank you, Alkistu. The points you make are well said and oh so true. There is a reason Shell is fighting hard for Terminal 5 and that is because there is no where else for them to go. The secrecy factor involved with the negotiations was shameful. Bill Bryant needs to go.

  • WSeattelite April 1, 2015 (5:34 pm)

    alkistu, you are incorrect about Shell being the only Arctic drilling company. Somehow everyone seems to forget that ALL of the oil coming down the Alaska Pipeline is coming from the Arctic and over a dozen companies. This is the primary source of oil for the entire West Coast of America. The tanks across the waterway from T-5 hold oil from the Arctic. Arctic drilling has been going on for decades and will likely go on for more. Choose your battles. Oil consumption is the problem. Big corporations like Green Peace have made this an initiative because they need a cause to fund their high paid CEOs and operations. The sheep follow along.

  • Bella April 1, 2015 (10:30 pm)

    The bottom line is… there are too many people on the Earth. Everything but human numbers will decline. Polar bears, primates, bees, wolves… anything we dont mass produce for our consumption.

    Honestly, I could care less about the “jobs” this brings… SEATTLE has no problem with people moving here and the tech jobs have made that possible. It has also brought a great deal of people who don’t appreciate the landscape as most PNW people do. But I’m sure even they don’t want an oil slick all over the sound, with the stink of dead fish and animals everywhere.

    Climate change is real, if you want to believe we caused it or not, why speed it up when there are alternative paths to take? I will protest and so will a large number of young people I know because we want to secure our future.

  • Hilde April 1, 2015 (11:18 pm)

    Strange that the Port Commission never answered the questions at the meetings about the alternatives they had. There were other proposals, or bids, but the Commissioners picked the one with the worst possible ecological outcome (apart from building a nuclear power plant on Terminal 5) and hurried up and went thru with it without giving the public a chance to form an opinion and express it.
    This is not democratic. It has a foul smell to it, the smell of big money.

  • Hilde April 1, 2015 (11:31 pm)

    WSB – yes, you do use the word “protest”. Under “the big stories”, the link appears as “Shell protest planned in WS”.
    WSeattelite – you are wrong, Greenpeace has not initiated this Easter March. The original host is the Green Party of Seattle, which got joined by several local groups, like 350 Seattle. None of us gets paid for this, it is an all-volunteer affair.

    • WSB April 1, 2015 (11:45 pm)

      It’s not in the story or the main headline, and that’s what the comments address. And it’s not inaccurate, and while I understand Stu’s emphasis on positivity, because that’s the kind of guy he is, it’s not a “bad” word, either. But thanks for pointing that *one* appearance out. Due to rotate out of the list anyway since it’s been a few days. – TR

  • G April 2, 2015 (10:07 am)

    It’s astonishing how cavalierly and disdainfully people speak of “too many people” on earth, and then lavish their attention on other creatures. It’s astonishingly how unsympathetic many of these same people are when a beloved pet is killed by a “wild” animal. Sure, lets all hail wildlife as if it has some intrinsic worth beyond a human life, or a pet for that matter. This is a very disturbing strain in hardcore environmentalism – and I won’t give this kind of behavior a psychological definition because this is a friendly neighborhood blog – but I’ll just say this is why I fled hardcore environmentalists long, long ago. And yes, I love wildlife.

  • alkistu April 2, 2015 (10:40 am)

    No worries TR, I was in the mood for setting the record straight and had no problem with the way you reported it. We all owe the WSB a debt of gratitude for their responses to all our daily issues.
    WSeattelite, You are completely right about the amount of oil that is coming out of the arctic region. My comment said “Shell oil is the last big oil company that finds it worthwhile to explore the arctic”. Explore being the key word. That exploration is in much more challenging areas than the current production. These challenging waters can have rough seas any time of year. That is the main reason for the accidents that are accumulating in the region and a point of our concern.
    We also appreciate the reduction in fossil fuel use and needs that has been the basis for the oil glut that currently exists. That is moving in the right direction for the arctic and for the our future generations. We are moving away from fossil fuels and the carbon emissions they produce. These are not selfish motives but I do have children that want to live healthier and happier.

  • Susan April 7, 2015 (9:48 am)

    These are exploration ships only and JOBs for our community!

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