Shell Oil has had a rough time up in Alaska. In the last year, it has had to contend with stray ships, busted engines, mismanaged contracts, and faulty spill containment equipment as it tried, and failed, to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. On Tuesday, the Interior Department hastily announced a review of the company’s Alaskan adventure. Facing its own criticism that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved the risky drilling attempt, the agency will pay “special attention” to “Shell’s management and operations.” The expedited government assessment came just one day after the Kulluk, Shell’s runaway drilling vessel that separated from its tow ship in December, finally ran aground.
But if the probe doesn’t move beyond Shell Oil’s past conduct, it will have little impact. After all, given Shell’s failure to master the harsh environment, Arctic drilling is, for all practical purposes, over for now.