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Shell contractor faces $12.2M in environmental crime fines

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.18.55The drilling operator of Shell’s ill-fated drill rig that ran aground south of Kodiak Island will plead guilty to eight felony offenses and has agreed to pay $12.2 million in fines and community service payments stemming from environmental and safety violations aboard its vessels, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday.

Alaska Dispatch News article published 8 Dec 2014

The drilling operator of Shell’s ill-fated drill rig that ran aground south of Kodiak Island will plead guilty to eight felony offenses and has agreed to pay $12.2 million in fines and community service payments stemming from environmental and safety violations aboard its vessels, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday.

Noble Drilling LLC, operator of the drill ship Noble Discoverer and drilling operator of the Kulluk — which broke free from a tow during bad weather and ran aground on Dec. 31, 2012 — also will receive four years of probation and must implement a Comprehensive Environmental Compliance plan for violating federal environmental and maritime law in 2012, according to a release from Karen Loeffler, U.S. Attorney for Alaska.

FULL ARTICLE

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 09.25.26REUTERS: Noble in $12.2 mln settlement with DOJ over Alaska drilling: 9 December 2014

Dec 8 (Reuters) – Drilling contractor Noble Corporation PLC on Monday said it paid $12.2 million to settle felony charges by the U.S. Department of Justice related to safety, environmental and record keeping violations on vessels in Arctic waters off Alaska in 2012.

During 2012, the Noble Discoverer drillship experienced numerous problems with its main propulsion system, including its main engine, resulting in engine shut-downs, equipment failures, and unsafe conditions, according to prosecutors.

Noble acknowledges that it failed to report any of these hazardous conditions to the U.S. Coast Guard, according to DOJ.

The Noble Discoverer was contracted by Royal Dutch Shell PLC to work on Shell leases in the remote Chukchi Sea off northwestern Alaska.

Charges also relate to Noble’s operation of the Shell-owned drilling unit Kulluk, which ran aground in December 2012 after work in the Beaufort Sea. Noble failed to keep proper records on both vessels, prosecutors said.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Noble will plead guilty to eight felony offenses, pay $8.2 million in fines and $4 million in community service payments.

The London-based company is also required to implement a comprehensive environmental compliance plan, and will be placed on probation for four years.

A spokesman for Noble said the company has made significant improvements to the Noble Discoverer since it entered the shipyard in 2013.

(Reporting by Anna Driver; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

RELAED

Alaska Native News: Noble Pleads Guilty to Multiple Felony Violations During Shell’s 2012 Drill Season

Extract

According to the press release issued on Monday:

“Noble Drilling (U.S.) LLC was charged in an eight-count Information with knowingly failing to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book and an accurate International Oil Pollution Prevention certificate, knowingly failing to maintain a ballast water record book, and knowingly and willfully failing to notify the U.S. Coast Guard of hazardous conditions aboard the drill ship Noble Discoverer. At the time of the offenses, the Noble Discoverer was operating under contract with Shell Offshore, Inc. and Shell Development, Ltd. for the purpose of drilling in the arctic in Alaska.”

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Shell contractor to pay $12.2 million for 2012 environmental crimes

Extract

When asked if Shell was at all involved in the offenses or legal discussions related to the charges, John Breed, Noble’s director of investor relations, said Noble had accepted full responsibility. Shell has been made aware of improvements to the Discoverer in Korea and ongoing testing in Singapore, Breed said in an email.

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