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Royal Dutch Shell quietly visits Ketchikan

KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Representatives from Royal Dutch Shell made a quiet visit to Ketchikan on Wednesday.

A stakeholder team met with members of local government and businesses in a tour of downtown cruise ship berths, the Ketchikan Shipyard and, finally, Ward Cove.

Last week, Doug Ward, the development director for shipyard operator Vigor Alaska, told the Daily News the visit wasn’t a response to the dispute in Seattle, but was rather a planned trip to explore possibilities in coastal communities in Alaska.

After some in Seattle’s city leadership took a public stance against Shell using city ports to moor its Arctic drilling fleet, the Ketchikan City Council decided to send a letter inviting the company to Ketchikan.

Along with Seattle’s mayor, environmental activists have protested the company’s presence in the city. "Kayaktivists" choked the port and several people have chained themselves to various vessels in Shell’s fleet.

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, wrote his own letter to Shell on Tuesday. Addressed to Laurie Schmidt, vice president of Shell’s Alaska arm, Stedman wrote that he was pleased the company was "visiting Ketchikan to view its capacity to support future Shell operations and explorations in Alaska."

Ketchikan and other Southeast communities can "provide the significant infrastructure and workforce needed to support arctic exploration and development as these communities serve as the gateway to Alaska," Stedman wrote.

Shell representatives couldn’t be reached on Wednesday, either by phone or in person. The company was requesting confidentiality during their time in the First City, according to Ward Cove Group co-owner Andrew Spokely.