I don’t deny that Shetlink has its uses. For example, it’s a place where the ignorant, the daft and the downright nasty can vent their spleen without any editorial control (apparently) but also without causing much harm. Normally I ignore the ravings of its more eccentric contributors. However, some of the Shetlink petrolheads’ comments on the Greenpeace protest are getting Shetland a bad name.
Perhaps I’m the only islander who admits to a sneaking admiration for those young idealists perched on the Stena Carron‘s anchor chains in a northerly gale. I know they’re interfering with commerce and that annoys people. And, yes, they might well be better employed protesting in the boardrooms of oil companies whose bosses routinely ignore safety regulations and order their drilling crews to cut corners to save cash. But, whether their actions are legal or not (probably not), surely they have a point. There are some questions that need answers.
1 Has an independent inspector checked that Stena Carron’s blow-out preventer (BoP) would work in an emergency?
2 Is there a back-up BoP in case it doesn’t?
3 Does this drill ship incorporate all the new safety measures agreed by the US offshore oil industry after the Deepwater Horizon disaster?
4 Do Stena and Chevron have a credible contingency plan if something goes wrong while drilling from a ship in the open Atlantic in winter seas?
5 Could they clean up and restore fish spawning and nursery grounds polluted by oil from a seabed blowout?
6 Could they clean up and restore the kelp forests where our crab and lobster boats fish?
7 Do they have adequate insurance cover if a northwesterly gale blew an oil slick from their drilling operations into the fish farms in the West Side?
If the answer to all these questions is “Yes”, then the Greenpeace volunteers should pack up and go home. If not, they will continue to have my sympathy, for what it’s worth.
Independent councillor for Lerwick South