Shell Not Arctic Ready, Spoofed By Honest Ad Campaign

The news of Royal-Dutch Shell's recent decision to hold off on Arctic drilling until next season offers some relief to those keeping track of the company's shoddy performance in Alaska to date. Shell advertised their position as “Arctic Ready,” suggesting their out of date drill rigs, their non-existent disaster spill response, and their technical know-how were 'ready' to take on the temperamental Arctic.  

But within the first few months of establishing their northern operations, Shell suffered several embarrassing mishaps, demonstrating just how unfit they were to take on some of the most dangerous drilling conditions in the world.
The company's aging fleet got a late start in the short drilling season when the Noble Discoverer was occupied by Xena, The Warrior Princess, delaying its voyage to Alaska from New Zealand. Peter Velez, Shell's head of Arctic Emergency Response admitted the company had not considered the cost of spills or other disasters like a well blow out, saying the chances of something like that occurring are “very, very small.” Shell's Arctic Challenger was deemed unsafe by the US Coast Guard, while it sat leaking hydraulic fluid into a Washington state port, just before the Noble Discoverer nearly ran aground in an Alaskan bay
When the Noble Discoverer finally began operations, it was only a day later that treacherous sea ice forced the vessel to disengage its anchors and stop drilling.
The Telegraph calls the $4.5 billion escapade a “comedy caper.”
As these events converged, it became apparent that Shell was not by any stretch “Arctic ready.” So when it came time for the general public to weigh in on the company's experimental drilling program, it's not surprising the campaign took a satirical twist.
The Yes Men gave the public that opportunity, asking individuals what tagline they thought appropriate for Shell's ambitious Arctic drilling plans.
Here are some of our favorite Shell “Arctic Ready” ads, available on the website's gallery at
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Nice spoofs. Together with the fake email Shell employees received (courtesy of the Yes Men) from the “Grassroots Employee Empowerment Division” providing information on the Kiobel vs Royal Dutch Petroleum case, it should start some interesting conversations around the Shell water coolers. 

In 1968 the “ice ramming” MV Manhattan gave up on trying to smask through the International, Deep Water McClure Parry passage and turned south taking a more dangerous route through narrow, shallow, passages entirely within Canadian Territorial wasters. Manhattan limped into port on the Alaskan North Slope with ice punctures in the outer hull big enough to drive a freight truck through.

The 1969 attempt to smash through McClure Parry in the other direction also failed, but Manhattan had 2 additional Oil Industry created hazards in it way, the sunken / floating hulks of the John A, Norburg and the Learmonth.

Both single hulled barges ended up punctured and trapped in ice along the route Manhattan was attempting.

Someone decided that the Alexbow equipped Learmonth was ready for the multi meter pressure ridges common in Canadian Arctic summer waters at that time, after testing it with Winter Ice less than 2 meters thick on the Great Lakes.