Shell Oil Rig in Alaska Drill Drifts From Hold, Nears Shore
The Noble Discoverer slipped from its hold in Unalaska Bay, Alaska, drifting towards Dutch Harbor and igniting the fears of environmentalists and locals who have fought against the Arctic drilling project since its inception. The Discoverer drifted approximately 100 yards before being towed back to its previous location by the Lauren Foss, a support vessel, said Shell spokesman Curtis Smith in an interview with CNN.
Shell has sent more than two dozen ships to the Beaufort and Chukchi seas surrounding the Aleutian Islands to drill “exploration wells.” While promising thousands of jobs for natives and an economic boom, Shell Oil Alaska Vice President Pete Slaiby told CNN that drilling in the arctic would be the “most complex, most difficult wells we’ve drilled in company history.” The oil natural resource this project would provide stands to stimulate supply chains from procurement to transportation and invigorate surrounding economies.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued permits that allowed the Noble Discoverer and other ships to begin exploratory drilling to establish the possibilities for oil drilling in the area, according to Maritime Professional. Along with the Inuit native, Greenpeace has led the organized effort against the Alaskan drilling, facilitating on -vessel protests from activists who boarded the ship during its previous stay in New Zealand. Shell was granted an injunction that forced these people to evacuate the ship “sit-in” of sorts.
While the Discoverer appears not to have been damaged during the “slip,” according to Shell, they have begun a thorough exterior and interior examination of the hull to assure its steadfastness. The 514-foot ship is nearly 50 years old, built in 1966 as a bulk carrier and converted to a drill ship in 1976.
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Slaibly has announced a planned investigation into the causes and preventative measures that may be needed as a result of the incident, but said the anchor used in the Dutch Harbor incident was much lighter than what would be used in Arctic offshore drilling. This incident will likely continue the longstanding battle between Shell Oil and those Alaskans who receive the brunt of the risk because of Shell’s offshore drilling.
Will Public Procurement Budgets Increase in 2021?
Procurement is more than just a private enterprise. COVID-19 reminded us that sourcing materials is an essential part of the government’s role. Throughout 2022, tiny departments sourced massive amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, and emergency vaccines and testing kits. Even non-procurement professionals were pulled into the fray, as frantic timelines demanded nothing less.
According to Celeste Frye, co-founder and CEO of Public Works Partners, the crisis brought procurement to the attention of skilled employees who had never considered it. As non-procurement personnel stepped up to help their coworkers, many found that they’d stumbled upon a critical and rewarding job. “Existing public employees have seen the essential nature of the work”, Frye said. “[They’ve] gained some critical skills and possibly [grown] interested in pursuing procurement as a longer-term career”.
Small, Local Suppliers Take Charge
Frye, whose firm helps organisations engage stakeholders and develop long-term procurement strategies, thinks it well worth the effort to open one’s mind to new opportunities. Cooperative contracts, for instance, can help public departments and municipalities save money, time, and effort. By joining together with other towns or cities in the region, public procurement teams aggregate their purchasing power and can drive better deals.
These cooperative contracts have the added benefit of advancing equity. Smaller suppliers that struggle to compete with established firms for government contracts can act as subcontractors, helping big suppliers fulfil bits of the project. Once they get their foot in the door, small, local, and disadvantaged suppliers can then leverage that government relationship to take on additional projects.
Especially as governments start to pay attention to procurement resilience, public procurement departments must expand their requests for proposals (RFPs) to take into account innovative solutions and diverse suppliers. According to Frye, Public Works Partners—a certified female-owned firm—has benefitted from local and state requirements that specify diversity.
Post-Pandemic Funding Swells Procurement Budgets
And the pandemic won’t be the end of it. City governments need to build sustainable energy infrastructure such as solar panels, charging stations, and recycling plants, ensure that masks and medicines are never in short supply, and source new technologies to keep up with cloud and cybersecurity concerns.
Public procurement budgets will likely increase to match demand. As Peter Ware, Partner and Head of Government at Browne Jacobson, explained, “in a non-pandemic world, the [U.K.] government spends on average around £290 billion on outsourced services, goods, and works...anywhere between 10% and 14% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Post-pandemic, city procurement will only increase as national governments provide local divisions with emergency funding.
And in truth, government employees might jump at the opportunity. Frye noted that public procurement could give immediate feedback on new programmes: “[Procurement] is where new laws and policies ‘hit the road’ and are implemented”, she said. “Professionals in these fields get the satisfaction of creating real change and seeing quantifiable outcomes of their work”.