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Royal Dutch Shell

Royal Dutch Shell has signed a provisional agreement to develop oil and gas fields in Iran, a move that could signal energy companies will not be deterred from doing business with the Islamic Republic despite uncertainty whether a Trump administration will scrap a nuclear deal agreed to by world powers.

After posting a gain of around $4 billion in the second quarter of 2015, Royal Dutch Shell says it lost more than $7.4 billion in the third quarter. Lower oil prices played a role, as did the costs Shell incurred when it shut down large-scale projects.

Faced with crude oil prices that have now been slumping for more than a year, Shell and other oil big companies are restructuring their businesses and cutting costs.

NPR's Jeff Brady reports:

Elaine Thompson / AP

The Port of Seattle has won a dispute with the City of Seattle over the legality of its lease with Royal Dutch Shell.

After testimony in August about the definition of cargo, Seattle’s Hearing Examiner reversed the city’s determination and now says Shell can legally use Terminal 5 as a home port for its Arctic drilling fleet.

The ruling says servicing Shell’s vessels is a permissible use for a cargo terminal.  

Reese Semanko via AP

After sinking eight years and more than $8 billion into the effort, Shell Oil is pulling out of the Arctic Ocean. The company dropped the surprising news in a Sunday-night press release.

Shell officials said the company safely drilled a well more than mile beneath the floor of the Chukchi Sea this summer. They found indications of oil and gas there, but not enough to warrant further exploration.

Bellamy Pailthorp

Royal Dutch Shell's huge oil-drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, was towed out of Seattle early Monday despite a blockade by a kayak flotilla that attempted to keep it from leaving for the Arctic.

According to the the U.S Coast Guard,  24 protesters were detained after they violated the established "safety zone" around the giant, Alaska-bound oil drilling rig.

The two-dozen detainees, who were only a portion of the large contingent of protesters, were released after receiving civil "notices of violation" that can include a $500 fine but don't carry criminal penalties.

It’s the latest front in the growing global movement to stop fossil fuel extraction. The Port of Seattle, a longtime staging point for expeditions to cash in on Alaska’s natural resources, has been home this spring to a standoff between oil giant Shell and legions of protesting “kayaktivists” and others hoping to foil the company’s plans to send a massive drilling rig to the Arctic Ocean next month.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

 The City of Seattle has determined that some of the oil drilling equipment parked on the edge of Elliott Bay does not have the right kind of permit. This includes the large yellow platform called the Polar Pioneer.

The Port has appealed the decision. The City’s Hearing Examiner is scheduled to  take up the issue on June 3rd.

AP Images

UPDATE: At a press conference about WiFi for the poor, Mayor Ed Murray was asked about the drilling permit and if the city planned further legal action.

Murray said he wasn't interested in a confrontation, but rather changing the port commissioners' minds. He said he believes he accomplished that with the city's stated opposition. He also says the city and the Port of Seattle were in conversations about the Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig.

"My goal is not to score points. My goal is to actually change the commission's mind, the Port Commission's mind and we accomplished that goal." Mayor Ed Murray.


Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

As Royal Dutch Shell’s Polar Pioneer oil rig arrived in Puget Sound, the noise coming from a  Coast Guard helicopter rang out across the water. It was deafening and added to the drama of watching an enormous new oil rig enter Elliott Bay.

Royal Dutch Shell is planning to send the Polar Pioneer along with a fleet of ships to the Arctic to drill this summer, now that President Obama has approved the oil giant's plans.

The bright yellow drilling machine took its place at Terminal 5 in West Seattle Thursday afternoon, accompanied by local tugs.

AP Images

SEATTLE (AP) — An oil rig outfitted for exploration in the remote Arctic Ocean parked in Seattle's harbor Thursday, marking a pivotal moment for an environmental movement increasingly mobilized around climate change.

Activists paddling out in kayaks to meet the rig off Seattle's picturesque waterfront said it's their moment to stand against opening a new frontier of fossil fuel exploration.

"Unless people get out there and put themselves on the front lines and say enough is enough, then nothing will ever change," said Jordan Van Voast, 55, an acupuncturist who was going out on the water to confront the Polar Pioneer. "I'm hopeful that people are waking up."

About two dozen kayakers paddled around Elliott Bay as the towering rig passed the city's Space Needle. The tiny boats, which kept their distance from the rig, were dwarfed by the 400-foot-long structure rising nearly 300 feet above the water. 

The image suggests how outmatched Shell's opponents have been as they try to keep the petroleum giant from continuing its $6 billion effort to open new oil and gas reserves in one of the world's most dangerous maritime environments.

Environmental groups in the Pacific Northwest are sensing a shift in the politics that surround energy production and have mobilized against a series of projects that would transform the region into a gateway for crude oil and coal exports to Asia.

Bellamy Pailthorp, KPLU

While the Polar Pioneer remains parked in Port Angeles, 

a second oil drilling rig -- the Noble Discoverer -- arrived Everett Tuesday, where it was greeted by activists and onlookers. 

The arrival brings additional attention to the Port of Seattle which is facing continued controversy over its agreement with Royal Dutch Shell to service the oil giant's Arctic  drilling vessels. And despite a port commission request for a delay of any moorage of oil exploration vessels and a city council vote in opposition to the deal, the two rigs are on their way. 

AP Images

After hearing testimony in favor of Arctic oil drilling, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to join Mayor Ed Murray in opposing the Port of Seattle’s lease with Royal Dutch Shell.  

The resolution doesn’t carry the legal authority to block the port's decision to host Royal Dutch Shell's drilling fleet. But it was enough of a statement that several Alaska Native leaders traveled from remote areas in the Arctic to lobby in favor of the lease with the city council. 

The jobs drilling would bring are vital, the Alaska representatives said.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

 

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said the Port of Seattle can't host Royal Dutch Shell's offshore Arctic oil-drilling fleet unless it gets a new land-use permit.

Shell has been hoping to base its fleet at the port's Terminal 5. Environmentalists have already sued over the plan, saying the port broke state law in February when it signed a two-year lease with Foss Maritime, which is working with Shell.

Donna Gordon Blankinship / AP Photo

A drill rig that could be used for oil drilling in the Arctic will arrive in Port Angeles on Friday and remain there for about two weeks before it heads to Seattle.

Protesters have said they plan to meet it when it arrives in Seattle in May.

In a statement, the Port of Port Angeles said the 400-foot Polar Pioneer will be off-loaded and then have equipment installed.

The Coast Guard says protesters will have to stay 100 yards away from the rig when it is anchored - and 500 yards away when it is in transit.