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Viral Shell Oil Video Is Hoax: Reports

(Correction: An earlier version of this article reported on video that purported to show a private party held by oil company Shell for its Arctic drilling launch. Shell sent an email that said it did not host or participate in the alleged event, and a spokeswoman for the company said it was likely a hoax. TheStreet regrets the error.)

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A video purporting to show a private kickoff event for Royal Dutch Shell's (RDS.A.) long-awaited Arctic deepwater drilling that went viral on the Internet is now reported to be a hoax.

A video reportedly recorded by Occupy Wall Street protestor Logan Price and reported by Gothamist shows a miniature oil rig gushing uncontrollably on a woman's dress after the model malfunctioned, with the surprised victim backing away as several event hosts rushed to help, and rushed at the protestor filming the incident on his phone.

"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. We continue to focus on a safe exploration season in 2012," Shell wrote in an email.

"I think it was just a, like you said, like a hoax," Kayla Macke, a Shell spokeswoman, said in a phone call.

Gothamist originally posted a story on the alleged Shell party, but later updated the story to say the video was a hoax.

Shell's plans to drill in a portion of the Arctic previously unopened has been in the works for years, and in fact, was originally scheduled to launch in summer 2010, just after the massive BP (BP) Macondo oil spill struck the Gulf of Mexico.

The federal government imposed a drilling moratorium in May 2010, delaying any new drilling permits because of BP's mess.

Shell's top North American executive, Marvin Odum, and several other Big Oil CEOs, including Exxon Mobil's (XOM) Rex Tillerson and Chevron's (CVX) John Watson were grilled on Capitol Hill about outdated, carbon copy oil spill response plans in the aftermath of the BP Macondo disaster, and failed to make a winning case to prevent the moratorium.

Environmental groups have fought Shell's plans every step of the way. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) -- the post-BP oil spill Interior Department unit overseeing deepwater drilling -- provided the initial go ahead for Shell's revised exploration plan for the Beaufort Sea last August, which calls for drilling four wells in shallow water starting in July 2012.

Shell's Beaufort and Chukchi Sea plans include drilling up to four wells over two years in the Beaufort Sea and up to six wells over two years in the Chukchi Sea, according to information on Shell's website.

"These programs will be executed using up to two drill ships, one potentially in each sea; allowing Shell to begin exploring its Alaska prospects in parallel after five years of delay."

It was the drill ships, Kulluk and Noble, that were use by the video hoax as the subject for the launch party.

Shell goes on to note on its Web site that the company, "plans to employ world-class technology and experience to ensure a safe, environmentally responsible Arctic exploration program."

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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