Shell put a brave face on the £2bn bill for its exploration off the coast of Alaska and released a statement last month describing the results of its activities as "disappointing". The company added that it would end its work in the Arctic "for the foreseeable future".
Exactly where this leaves the energy giant is uncertain but Shell’s investor handbook rated the Arctic as the largest source of future production compared with so-called ‘frontier’ and ‘heartland’ resource fields.
Cue jubilation on the part of Greenpeace, as well as every other global climate activism group. Suddenly, abseiling down buildings with banners decrying Shell, staging Titanic-themed protests outside its HQ, using animatronic polar bears with Emma Thompson (pictured), reworking oil paintings into dystopian nightmares and a brand-attack campaign against Lego for partnering with the company don’t seem like the acts of tree-huggers on a mission to change the world.
Whether Greenpeace won or Shell lost is debatable but the campaigners are claiming a scalp nonetheless. Greenpeace even wheeled out the polar bear again – and Emma Thompson – for the celebration.