Shell executives and shareholders probably heartily wish today that their send-off party of two new Arctic oil drilling rigs -- the "Kulluk" and the "Noble Discovery" -- hadn't included a tiny model oil rig intended for serving drinks. As the bearded, tuxedo-clad master of ceremonies welcomed a party-goer to the front of the room to receive her first drink, the model rig refused to pour anything out.
"Jones," he said, "It's not coming out."
A younger man, presumably "Jones," urged him to try again. "You can't hurt it," he said.
Jones was wrong.
With a "Pop!" worthy of a champagne toast, the model oil rig hit its first (and probably only) "gusher." Liquid arced out of the top of the well, drenching the party guest, who cried, "Oh, my goodness!" as she backed away.
Another partygoer, a woman in a roll-neck dress and boots attempted to deflect the tiny "oil" spill by holding a glass over the fountaining geyser of fluid, which stopped the liquid from shooting into the air, but only by directing it straight to the floor.
"Turn it off!" someone said.
"I can't turn it off!" replied the woman holding the glass, as the crowd muttered and chuckled in sympathetic embarrassment.
Moments later, the person recording the mishap was approached by a man who appeared to be some type of security personnel.
"Why are you still filming?" he demanded, "Can I have that phone, please?"
When the newly-minted documentarian refused, he was escorted from the building.
UPDATE: Grist.org reports that the video is a hoax on the grounds that a Shell spokesman said, “I can confirm that this was not a Shell event.” Shell's name does not appear in the video, but the company's logo is visible on the model oil rig.
However, Logan Price, the activist who uploaded the video to YouTube insists that it is real and un-staged, and that the event, called "New Frontiers: A Celebration of Seattle's Energy Leaders" was held by PR firm Wainwright & Shore. The EventBrite invitation to the party, which was held atop at Seattle's "Space Needle" tower, can be viewed here.
LeAnne Sanville, a spokeswoman for Wainwright & Shore confirmed that the firm did in fact host the event in the form of an official statement from the firm's communications manager. However, she would not comment on whether anyone from Shell was present.
"Wainwright & Shore regrets the fact that a small incident at the Space Needle last night has been blown out of proportion by a small number of online sources," Communications Manager Jesse Fischer said in the statement. "We delivered a first class event, and a despite a small malfunction our guests left happy and entertained. The incident was quickly contained, and in fact our client later congratulated us on a hugely successful evening."
In a statement to Raw Story, Shell denied any involvement in the event.
"Recently groups that oppose Shell’s plans in offshore Alaska have posted a video that purport to show Shell employees at an event at the Seattle Space Needle. Shell did not host, nor participate in an event at the Space Needle and the video does not involve Shell or any of its employees," the statement read. "We continue to focus on a safe exploration season in 2012."
UPDATE: The video has been confirmed as fake.
Watch the video, embedded via YouTube, below:
(image via YouTube screen grab)
Additional reporting by Jon Terbush