UPDATE: The video of of a mock Shell oil rig spraying guests at a reception with liquor is a fake, gossip website Gawker reports.
A video titled #ShellFail went viral Thursday, apparently showing guests at a Shell reception at Seattle's Space Needle being sprayed with liquor from a malfunctioning three-foot rig. But Gawker looked into the PR firm behind the event, and found its website is hosted by Mayfirst.org, a small hosting company that also was home to Yes Men's fake Bank of America website.
Though it's not clear yet whether the Yes Men were behind this video, it's likely it was done to draw attention to Shell's controversial drilling plans for the Arctic.
If it’s one thing Shell -- and every other oil company -- doesn’t want, it’s images of one of its rigs uncontrollably spilling its wares.
But that’s what happened Wednesday night -- sort of. Guests at a Shell reception in Seattle’s Space Needle scrambled to get out of the way when a mock oil rig started indiscriminately spraying liquor.
The guests had come to celebrate the launch of Shell’s Kulluk oil rig, which is headed to Alaska to begin exploration.
Occupy protester Logan Price, who had crashed the event, captured the incident on his cellphone and sent the video to the Occupy Seattle website.
“It all started with a malfunction ... of the event's centerpiece, a scale model of the Kulluk, one of the rigs heading up north, which was sitting in a basin of liquor (rum and coke?) next to an ice sculpture in the shape of an iceberg,” the Occupy Seattle blog quoted him as saying.
One of the spill’s victims, according to Price, was the engineer who had designed the real Kulluk rig.
“I can’t turn it off,” an event official can be heard saying on the video, prompting a guffaw from the crowd.
The PR firm associated with the event, Wainwright & Shore, told Digital Journal that the incident had been “blown out of proportion by a small number of online sources.”
“We delivered a first class event, and despite a small malfunction on one of the evening's props our guests left happy and entertained,” the agency said.
Shell’s Kulluk is at the center of an environmental controversy. Green groups last month decried the EPA’s decision to give Shell an air permit for the rig, saying it would release harmful pollutants into the skies.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last month rejected a challenge to the EPA’s permit by several environmental groups.
Check out photos of the incident on Price’s Twitter feed.