Stop Illegal Offshore Oil Drilling

Shell Todd Energy

Target: Rob Forlong, Chief Executive of the Environmental Protection Authority

Goal: Demand a major oil company stop drilling illegally off the coast of New Zealand

Recently, the largest oil company in New Zealand, Shell Todd Energy (Shell), started to illegally drill off of the island’s west coast. The oil giant failed to gain permission from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) before drilling, a step that is now a requirement. When approached about this issue, Shell insisted that the new rules are confusing and therefore it did not know that permission to drill was necessary. It is no surprise that Shell avoided requirements in order to drill on its own terms. The company must be reprimanded for refusing to comply with new rules.

The environment minister, along with the New Zealand government, both stepped in to defend Shell when the issue arose. The minister, Nick Smith, argued that it is normal for companies to slowly transition to new rules. Smith is supposed to protect the oceans, not allow illegal drilling to be forgiven because the oil company cannot quickly adapt to and follow new rules. Shell drilled two wells in its oil and gas fields without gaining permission, because it was unsure about its new jurisdiction. A company that cannot clarify and follow rules should not be allowed to compromise the well-being of the oceans. A company dealing with deadly, polluting toxins should be held accountable for all “mistakes.”

Allowing Shell to get away with illegal drilling sends the wrong message. Governments should not operate to benefit dangerously lax company attitudes, especially when a mishap threatens mass amounts of wildlife and the health of the oceans. Urge the Chief Executive of the EPA to pursue legal action against Shell in order to show the company that it is not exempt from any laws.


Dear Chief Executive Forlong,

Shell Todd Energy illegally drilled two wells off of the coast of New Zealand because the company was confused about new drilling laws. Instead of issuing a reprimand for dangerous activity, the New Zealand government and the environment minister defended the oil giant, stating that new rules often take awhile to get used to. As you know, the excuse of not knowing or understanding new rules does not hold up in a legal setting.

Guilt is not revoked because the accused party was not aware that any laws were broken. A law must be followed, whether or not the law is new or decades old, especially when the law protects fragile ocean ecosystems. Shell should not get away with this behavior.

I urge you to legally challenge Shell and its operation. Drilling illegally is dangerous; allowing Shell to get away with this crime is even more dangerous. Shell should not be allowed any leniency. Its operation is dangerous in nature and all rules must be enforced. Please take legal action against Shell to ensure the ocean is never compromised.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Andyminicooper via Wikimedia

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