Irony In Our Time: Shell Arctic Drilling Celebration Ends In A Spill

UPDATE! It's another great Yes Men publicity stunt! A PR event designed to celebrate Shell's new Arctic drilling operation makes a big mess.

Ah, the oil industry. An exciting mix of greed, incompetence and sheer evil, coupled with a delightful stranglehold over most of our lives. As mutated shellfish keep washing up on the shore in the wake of the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell is taking its dangerous and environmentally destructive operations to a new area of wilderness: the Arctic. There's been no drilling in the US Arctic waters since the 1990s, but Shell has gotten the go-ahead to start work there (despite the GAO saying Shell's reponse plans are insufficient in case of a spill). 

To celebrate Shell threw a party in Seattle at the Space Needle (their drilling platform is currently docked nearby). That's where things went wrong. Logan Price, an activist with Occupy Seattle, was there, and he captured the mayhem on video. His report, via Treehugger:

I guess the photo-op was meant to be a symbolic tapping of the Arctic. There was a ridiculous three-foot-high scale model of their Arctic drilling rig, the Kulluk, and the mini-rig had a tap to pump liquor for the guests.

The guest of honor was an elderly Japanese man introduced as the original Chief Engineer of the Kulluk rig who used to work at Mitsui back in the '80s. But when the man went to turn on the ‘rig,’ the liquor went everywhere - and the first to be hit was another elderly guest, the widow of the man who'd actually designed the Kulluk back in the 1980s.


The guy in charge kept asking the old engineer to fix it but he obviously had no idea how to turn it off. Shell's PR people got REALLY worked up, and the designer’s widow started yelling. At this point the guy who was presenting the new ad campaign told me to turn off my camera and got pretty aggressive.

"I can't turn it off." Anybody feel like this is the foreshadowing part of the first act of a movie?

UPDATE: Some people think this is fake. I tend to think it isn't, mostly because the location and size of the event seems prohibitive for a cheap stunt. I guess it could be a Yes Men stunt, but I would still consider that interesting and funny enough to run. If this is proven to be a fake, I'll run a retraction and leave the original article up.

DOUBLE UPDATE! It IS fake. I was right about it being a Yes Men stunt. Gawker has the whole story. 

If you're not familiar with the Yes Men, you should check out the excellent doc The Yes Men Fix the World. If I'm going to get fooled by pranksters, I'm glad it's these pranksters!