Shell Arctic-drilling equipment @ Terminal 5: Plans for ‘resistance’ and ‘safety zones’

With the platform and vessel that Shell hopes to use for Arctic drilling getting closer to Western Washington waters, opponents of their expected stay at Terminal 5 have announced a schedule for protests, while the U.S. Coast Guard has announced “temporary safety zones” as well as a “voluntary First Amendment zone” worked out with potential waterborne protesters.

First, here’s where it all stands:

Two months have passed since the Port of Seattle announced it had signed a lease with Foss for a third of the idle-since-last-summer Terminal 5 expanse in West Seattle, with Foss expecting to host Royal Dutch Shell offshore-drilling equipment that would eventually head to the Arctic if Shell gets final federal approval.

Since then, as reported here and elsewhere, there have been protests, legal action, and preparation, and more in the works.

WHAT’S HAPPENING AT TERMINAL 5 NOW: Foss and the port have said preparatory work is already under way.

WHERE ARE SHELL’S DRILL RIGS? The Polar Pioneer, crossing the Pacific on the deck-cargo ship Blue Marlin, is expected in Port Angeles on Friday, with a two-week stay there before moving on to Seattle, reports The Peninsula Daily News. The Greenpeace activists who climbed onto it and camped out for five-plus days came down last Saturday, citing stormy weather; a federal judge in Alaska later granted Shell’s request for a court order against them. Their boat the Greenpeace Esperanza is still tailing the Polar Pioneer/Blue Marlin as far as we know.

The Noble Discoverer, the drilling vessel that was here in 2012 before it (along with the now-scrapped Kulluk) got into trouble in Alaska, is still crossing the Pacific too.

(2012 photo by Long B. Nguyen)
It stopped a week ago in the Marshall Islands port of Majuro, and then was reported to be Hawai’i-bound. Majuro to Honolulu is 2,300 miles; then it’s another 2,600 miles to get here.

OTHER SHELL VESSELS: The Coast Guard’s announcement today mentions the Aiviq:

That’s a photo we took while the Aiviq was here with other Shell-related vessels in 2012 ( shows it currently moored in Everett).

PORT COMMISSION: Its public meeting yesterday afternoon at Pier 69 was the first in three meetings that did not include dozens of speakers on the subject of the Terminal 5 lease. Four people did speak, all voicing opposition to the lease and concern about Arctic drilling and climate change. The bulk of the comment period was spent on other Port of Seattle business, primarily plans for a new international-arrivals facility.

COAST GUARD ANNOUNCEMENT: From the full announcement published today, which you can read here:

… A 500-yard safety zone [above] will be in place around the Noble Discoverer, Blue Marlin, Polar Pioneer, Aiviq and other Arctic drilling related vessels while underway. A 100-yard safety zone will be in place around the same vessels while moored or anchored. …

…The Voluntary First Amendment Area [above] is a regulated navigation area in Elliott Bay, developed following discussions with several special interest groups, where the Coast Guard recommends, but does not require, those desiring to express their views on Arctic drilling assemble. It is a no wake area where individuals can congregate without compromising their personal safety or jeopardizing the safe navigation of maritime traffic around them. …

As you can see from the map, that zone will be off the West Seattle shoreline north of T-5. As for when it might be used …

‘RESISTANCE’ PLANNED FOR MAY 16-18: In addition to the already-announced downtown waterfront rally on April 26th, opponents have announced “three days of creative, people-powered resistance to Shell and the climate crisis” for May 16th through 18th, including a kayak flotilla on the first day. Their plan detailed on this website vows to “transform … Terminal 5 and Harbor Island into a festival of resistance that will nonviolently block Shell’s preparations for Arctic drilling.”

17 Replies to "Shell Arctic-drilling equipment @ Terminal 5: Plans for 'resistance' and 'safety zones'"

  • Ray April 15, 2015 (7:48 pm)

    And of course the irony of the May protests will be the kayak flotilla, performed using kayaks that have a rather large quantity of petroleum used in their production and as part of their composition.

    I love hypocrisy.

  • mr. the horse April 15, 2015 (8:44 pm)

    reminder: there is no such thing as a “regulated area for first amendment activities.” there is no such thing as a “protest zone.” there is no such thing as a “free speech area.”

    carry on,


  • Shell No April 15, 2015 (8:50 pm)


  • ChefJoe April 15, 2015 (10:31 pm)

    Yes, free speech zones are not regulated….

    But, there is a real, afaik non-voluntary, safety zone around the vessels and a temporary restraining order for these vessels and greenpeace.

  • I. Ponder April 15, 2015 (10:43 pm)

    Hypocrisy is a distinctly human trait. Quite natural really. We all use oil. Hopefully we can use as little as possible and be less hypocritical. That said, Shell will have no qualms about raping the Arctic for profit. Remember the Kulluk, the drilling platform that lived off West Seattle?

  • AIDM April 16, 2015 (7:18 am)

    The notion that it’s hypocritical to be against drilling in the Arctic preserve if you’ve ever used a drop of oil is stunningly ridiculous. There is nothing hypocritical about using oil sparingly while promoting alternative fuel research and development while setting aside precious “park-like” regions for preservation.

  • Joan April 16, 2015 (7:54 am)

    We’re all prisoners of oil. We’re just trying to make the world a better place, and that includes weaning ourselves off of a finite fossil fuel. Just try to live your life without using anything made with petroleum, or using any form of motorized transport. I support the Shell protests but do not consider myself a hyprocrite. Everyone needs to conserve energy.

  • 33Pete April 16, 2015 (8:16 am)

    Well said Joan.

    We are all indeed “prisoners of oil,” and these kinds of protests help move us toward the paradigm shift that will have to take place to eventually move us off of oil, or at least significantly reduce use. Not only is oil a matter of convenience in terms of driving, but it has also been (indirectly) promoted as a symbol of freedom and independence through years of marketing by automobile manufacturers who want to make sure every single person on this planet owns their own car.

    I am not a fan of tactics like blocking traffic (whether on water or on land), but can understand where the protestors are coming from.

  • G April 16, 2015 (9:19 am)

    The portability and ease of converting oil into energy (net cost benefit) has made civilization as we know it possible. Take away oil and coal and there wouldn’t be a tree left on the planet and we’d be eating grubs. Using less is not just a nice after thought, it is the crux of the issue because the idea that we can sustain this standard of living with sustainable energy sources, which require conventional energy to produce, is untenable. Unless the old adage, can’t have your cake and eat it too, isn’t true after all.

  • Bill at Duwamish Head April 16, 2015 (10:02 am)

    Aiviq sailed in maybe 20 minutes ago.

  • M April 16, 2015 (11:38 am)

    Thank you, Ray. Being a lefty sympathizer I can’t help feeling all warm and hopeful whenever I read about idealistic young people standing up for something they believe in. They’re often right. And over the years I’ve always felt guilty when one of them asks me to participate in something like this and I turn them down, or I have to explain why a ragtag flotilla of kayaks probably won’t be slaying any giant oil companies in the near or distant future. No doubt the head ghouls at Shell are terrified. “Watch out for the ones in tie-dye!” But bless you anyway idealistic young people. I’d like to join you, but like Ray, I’m ashamed to admit that my kayak is make from the very products that companies like Shell Oil make, and hypocrisy is abhorrent to guys like Ray and I. It’s very personal. I hope you understand.

  • MFW April 16, 2015 (1:53 pm)

    Shell is going to drill exploratory wells in the Arctic region in accordance with the leases they legally obtained. Production from these potential fields is at least a decade off. A flotilla of idealistic kayakers won’t change that. The 2 year lease at T5 will provide jobs, revenue for the port, and support union workers from the ILWU, IBU and construction trades for two full years. If somehow the City and it’s protest culture manage to discredit the Port of Seattle and run off a paying customer, Shell will find a support base elsewhere, and they will still drill in the Arctic. It’s only the local workers who lose. Brilliant strategy. Well done.

  • wscommuter April 16, 2015 (2:06 pm)

    @33Pete and Joan … these protests pretty much accomplish nothing but making the protesters feel good about themselves. And maybe that’s enough – more power to them.
    Real change will occur when economic forces bring change to us. Oil is still (relatively) cheap and plentiful; our dependence on fossil fuels will not ease until renewable or nuclear energy sources can compete in the market. Renewables for the most part can’t – yet … and nuclear is anathema to many and therefore politically untenable. So until we can make solar or tidal or wind power so cheap that it supplants coal or oil as a viable economic choice, we will continue to drill and mine.
    Just facts. Want to stop arctic drilling? Put a $4 gallon tax on gasoline and wait 5 years. if gas were $8 a gallon, we’d find all sorts of conservation and alternative energy options suddenly cost-effective.

  • Nick April 16, 2015 (5:19 pm)

    Go flip some rocks on a beach where the Exxon Valdez happened(1000s of mi of coast line) you still can find oil on beaches. It’s not worth the risk. I don’t see a successful spill cleanup happening in arctic when it does happen

  • Captain Dave April 16, 2015 (10:10 pm)

    I can’t help but wonder if future scientists will praise us early humans for putting life-giving carbon back into circulation?

    Maybe humans are no different than those industrious little worms that help recycle nutrients in soil? What if the idea of humans burning fossil fuels was something anticipated by nature as a way to prolong life on earth? Once all the carbon settles deep in the ground, Earth will become a barren rock like Mars.

    Did the Coast Guard mark an area for the welcome committee?

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