ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Two groups petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday for an investigation of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and what the groups call misstatements in regulatory filings regarding the risk of a catastrophic oil spill from Arctic offshore drilling.
The petition was filed Monday by Oceana and the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.
Mike LeVine, an attorney for Oceana, argued that Shell hasn't disclosed to investors that its response measures to a major or catastrophic spill are unlikely to work.
"Shell asserts that it has thorough response capabilities and does not explain that the techniques on which it proposed to rely on are unlikely to be effective in the Arctic, or haven't been tested in the Arctic Ocean," he said Monday night.
He said that Shell also hasn't promptly or fully disclosed to investors the threat of litigation over its proposed Arctic operations. Alaska Native and conservation groups challenged a 2008 lease sale in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast but Shell didn't mention the lawsuit to investors for six years, he said. Shell now, however, is using the threat of litigation as one justification for seeking more time from the federal government to explore its leases, he said.
A message seeking comment left with Shell USA late Monday night after the close of business hours wasn't immediately returned.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates Arctic offshore reserves at 26 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. However, drilling in Arctic waters is strongly opposed by conservation groups, which claim oil companies have not demonstrated a capability of cleaning up spills in ice-choked water. They also say the U.S. Arctic lacks basic infrastructure found in other offshore areas such as nearby deep-water ports, major airports and a strong Coast Guard presence.
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