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Shell Rig Runs Aground

There is reportedly up to 150,000 gallons of ultra-low sulphur diesel on board the Kulluk and roughly 12,000 gallons of combined lube oil and hydraulic fluid. The condition of the vessel has not yet been confirmed and overflights are scheduled pending weather conditions. Unified Command, using a US Coast Guard aircraft, plans to conduct a survey to assess the situation at first light. A response team will be deployed when it is safe to do so. 

By Dan Carpenter & Mike Ross Channel 2 News 6:46 p.m. AKST, December 31, 2012
ANCHORAGE, Alaska—

UPDATE: The Unified Command handling the Kulluk situation released this statement Monday night. Check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 Morning Edition for the latest on this developing story.

ANCHORAGE, AK – The Unified Command reports that Kulluk grounded at approximately 9:00 p.m. AK time on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island. The crew of the tug Alert was ordered to separate from the Kulluk at 8:15 pm to maintain the safety of the nine crewmembers aboard the vessel.

“The extreme weather conditions and high seas continue to be a challenge. We have more than 250 people actively involved in the response efforts,” said Susan Childs, Incident Commander, Shell. “Our priority right now is maintaining the safety of our response personnel and evaluating next steps.”

There were no personnel aboard the Kulluk at the time of grounding, and no injuries have been reported.

There is reportedly up to 150,000 gallons of ultra-low sulphur diesel on board the Kulluk and roughly 12,000 gallons of combined lube oil and hydraulic fluid. The condition of the vessel has not yet been confirmed and overflights are scheduled pending weather conditions. Unified Command, using a US Coast Guard aircraft, plans to conduct a survey to assess the situation at first light. A response team will be deployed when it is safe to do so. 

The Shell drill ship Kulluk went adrift again Monday night in rough seas, according to a press release from the Unified Command handling the continuing situation involving the rig. Lines to support vessels broke free this past weekend. The rig was back under tow earlier in the day Monday, but the rig went adrift again in what officials call “difficult weather conditions”.

The U.S. Coast Guard is working with several state and federal agencies as part of a unified command to monitor the situation with the Kulluk.

Shell says the situation began with one of Shell’s contracted support vessels. The Aiviq lost power to all four of its engines and the tow line was detached in high seas. The Coast Guard responded with a cutter to supply a replacement line but that was also lost. Eighteen crew members of the Kulluk were airlifted by the Coast Guard on Saturday and are reported to be unharmed.

“Of course the goal is always flawless operations but part of being a responsible operator is making sure you have contingencies in place in the event those operations do not go perfectly. We have called on those people and those assets and they have performed very very well,” said Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith on Monday.

U.S. Coast Guard Captain Paul Mehler III is working with the Unified Command out of Anchorage. He says Mother Nature is presenting serious challenges, “I’ll be the first to say this was not on the radar as a possibility. We always had those ‘what ifs’ and what is our worst case scenario and from that we’re pulling off as good a response as we can right now. In the environment we’re working in which I have to stress is really challenging.

Copyright © 2012, KTUU-TV

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