We are very excited to announce that OFFSHORE INTERNATIONAL is now live. Brenda presented a tiny sneak preview at the amazing World of Matter conference in Montreal and it is now up for all to see.

OFFSHORE INTERNATIONAL follows the story of the proliferation of offshore drilling off the coasts of Ghana, Brazil and Alaska. For the past two years we have had an incredible time working with filmmakers in each of those areas. Sedem Ofori, a journalist in Accra, Ghana managed to get access to a Tullow FPSO (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel)–the huge tankers which are used off the coast of Western Africa. Debbie Dahl Edwardson, our collaborator in Barrow, Alaska gathered amazing, moving stories from Inupiat activists and elders who fear for the future of their community as oil exploration begins in their traditional fishing grounds. In Brazil, we worked with a producer, Daniela Moreira who gathered incredible stories of fishermen whose livelihood has been under attack, activist organizations whose members live under 24 hour police protection and young workers injured on dangerous oil rigs drilling in the enormous pre salt deposits, miles off the coast. Offshore-International brings you dozens of stories from these are communities who are living with the tremendous impacts from the new frontiers of offshore drilling.

It’s hard to say ‘enjoy’ but we hope you find them as provocative, moving and enraging as we do.


Under Western Skies and Gross Negligence

At the Under Western Skies Conference on Environments/ Technologies/Communities in Calgary where it is 1 degree C and there is snow on the ground! Will be showing excerpts of OFFSHORE on Thursday. The conference opened this morning with utterly inspiring talks by Justice Thomas Berger and the four amazing women who are the key organizers of Idle No More. (more on them later)

Justice Berger made Canadian history in 1974 when he chaired the Berger Commission on the Mackenzie Valley pipeline which revolutionized the process and protocols of royal commissions in Canada by actually travelling to 35 First Nations’ communities in the western Arctic whose traditional lifestyle would be immediately impacted by the building of a pipeline. Those hearings, which were broadcast across the country and were the subject of a National Film Board documentary, provided a crucial and historic wakeup call to Canadians who suddenly witnessed the tremendous chasm between First Nations’ profound spiritual, political and cultural views around land, ownership and environmental obligation and their own unchallenged assumptions.

Despite the 50 million dollars invested by oil companies in advocating for the pipeline, Berger ultimately recommended that treaty claims had to be settled before any development proceeded. While supporting the possibility of a southern pipeline (if scrupulous environmental precautions were taken), he concluded that the northern part of the pipeline from Prudhoe Bay through Alaska should never be built as it would have a tragic and deadly impact on the porcupine caribou migration. As events transpired, the MacKenzie Valley pipeline was never built and over the last forty years attention turned to other resource projects including the tar sands and fracking. But how astonishing that in 1974, in the wake of the so called ‘energy crisis,’ that a Canadian royal commission would recommend a stall to the bulldozer of progress and to the power of the transnational oil companies who were lobbying for the pipeline in the first place. Seems nearly unthinkable today.

Last week another Justice did the right thing. After more than a year of deliberations and countless representations, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier found BP “grossly negligent” and “reckless” in causing the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Of course most people would concur (this was essentially the conclusion of the 17 month joint inquiry by the U.S. Coast Guard and BOEMRE which found that decisions made by BP to save time and money severely compromised safety) but I suppose it is extraordinary that a senior judge in the U.S. Justice system would, under enormous pressure, make this finding. For the past four years BP has lied about the amount of oil spilled, tried to shift the blame onto others, employed a team of lawyers to stall the proceedings and basically did everything to diminish its legal liability for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Finding BP ‘grossly’ negligent as opposed to merely ‘negligent’ means that the ultimate fines imposed could be increased by about $18-billion (U.S.). While there was much brouhaha in the press about justice being served, insiders pointed out that BP has enough liquidity to eventually handle this additional amount. While this may produce a chill for smaller companies contemplating risky plays, for large companies with deep pockets (and BP has very deep pockets) this could simply be the cost of doing business. But you have to ask yourself and shareholders are starting to do this about the very deep financial risk of deepwater drilling.

But before we start cheering, any financial pain inflicted on BP may be years into the future. They are appealing and the case could very well drag on for years (the Exxon Valdez took nearly twenty years to finally resolve by which time most of the plaintiffs had died!)

Nafeez Ahmed

Spent the weekend reading an incredible series of articles in the Guardian by Nafeez Ahmed. Ahmed is an investigative journalist and international security scholar and his many books (including a novel), articles and interview provide startling insights into the Machiavellian politics that animate the desire to preserve oil profits and oil interests—at any cost.

Think of any of the international crises that have dominated the news this summer—the military siege of Gaza, the ISIS rampage throughout Syria and Iraq and you’ll discover the primary engine fueling these events is the geopolitics of oil and gas. But then, again is there any geopolitics today that is not motivated by desperate machinations to secure privileged access to oil and gas in an era of dramatically declining reserves of conventional sources ?

According to Nafeez, one of the primary motivations of the relentless and ruthless assault on Gaza has to do with Israel’s desire to control access to the 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered in 2000 off the Gaza coast, valued at $4 billion. Israel’s long-term goal, he writes “besides preventing the Palestinians from exploiting their own resources, is to integrate the gas fields off Gaza into the adjacent Israeli offshore installations.”

Here is Nafeez on the current fiasco in Iraq: “The meteoric rise of Isis is a predictable consequence of a longstanding US-led geostrategy in the Middle East that has seen tyrants and terrorists as tools to expedite access to regional oil and gas resources.” According to well documented reports and correspondence from US private intelligence firm Stafor (made public through WikiLeaks), jihadist groups in Syria (including Isis) have been generously funded (to the tune of 1 billion dollars) by the Gulf States, particularly Saudia Arabia and Qatar with tacit support and knowledge of U.S. and British security agencies. Nafeez links this support to a “Divide and Rule” strategy operative in the Pentagon and U.S. state department which involved “exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts.”

Now, as he points out, “Iraqis are paying the price yet again for our ill-conceived imperial hubris.”

If there is any good news that Nafeez sees in the current geopolitics of oil it is that the move to non-conventionals (including shale and offshore oil) is economically unsustainable. In this case, ‘unsustainability’ has nothing to do with the real long term ecological impacts but everything to do with free market economics.

As he puts it, “Since 2000, the oil industry’s investments have risen by 180% – a threefold increase – but this has translated into a global oil supply increase of just 14%. Two-thirds of this increase has been made-up by unconventional oil and gas. In other words, the primary driver of the cost explosion is the shift to expensive and difficult-to-extract unconventionals …” The dramatic rise in production costs, he adds, is “fatally undermining oil company profits, forcing them to announce cut backs in expenditures.”

The fact that the economic calculus of continued oil production is so bad may become the tipping point that leads us into a saner and sustainable energy regime.

Offshore in Russia brought to you by Exxon Mobil

Here’s an incredible update on the Russian oil frontier in the Arctic. For anyone following our blog, we had posted interviews with some of the family members of the Canadians who were part of the Greenpeace Arctic Thirty–jailed for 50 days for protesting Arctic drilling. A year later, Russia when it isn’t supporting ultra nationalist Russian thugs in the Ukraine, is plotting big moves in the Kara Sea. Last weekend a drilling ship sailed from Norway to being prospecting, a venture where the key collaborator is Exxon Mobil. With 60% of its exports depending on petroleum, and facing international sanctions for its role in the turmoil in Ukraine, there’s a lot at stake here.



Yes, welcome to everyone who has recently subscribed. We are delighted to have you with us on the journey. We know that ‘out of sight…out of mind” is the mantra of multinational oil interests as they proceed to drill and explore for oil off every coast in the world, but it’s our intention to keep hauling the ‘invisible’ into public consciousness. And it’s not as if the story will ever go away…

In February, a group from the Florida State Department of Environmental Protection discovered an 81-square-foot tar mat cruising the shallows off Pensacola beach. That’s 1,250 pounds of oily garbage that slithered across almost 200 miles of seabed, damaging environments and amassing sand and marine fragments. Tests determined that this mat was the condesate of the oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

We’ve been taking OFFSHORE to various events including the fabulous I-Docs Conference in Bristol England and SXSW in Austin (where it was nominated for an award in the green activism category). We didn’t win that one, but we are also nominated for awards in the Green and Activism categories for the Webbies, and you have one day to vote for us in the People’s award: In June, we will be showing OFFSHORE at the Sheffield Documentary Festival.

We are hard at work editing stories from Alaska, Ghana and Brazil and hope to have our Alaska chapter launched in early July. Please stay tuned for notices.


Out and About

Offshore has been busy these past months. We premiered the Installation version at Smart Fipa in Biarritz. Brenda presented the work at the Sustainability Festival at York University and at Reframe, a wonderful documentary festival in Peterborough, Ontario. We had a cyber presence at the cool online International Environmental Festival (FIFE) Paris, France. We just found out we were nominated in the Activism category at SXSW among many other fantastic interactive documentaries. We had a small Toronto launch with the journal PUBLIC whose new issue includes an essay by Brenda “Extreme Oil and Our Disappearing Future.

In March, Mike Robbins, our lead web designer and Brenda are off to the I-docs conference in Bristol, England.