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Posts Tagged ‘Kulluk’

Myths about Shell’s Arctic Alaska pullout persist

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Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 09.03.21Yereth RosenAlaska Dispatch News: October 3, 2015

When Royal Dutch Shell announced that it had lost its big-money bet in the Chukchi Sea and would end its entire program in the offshore U.S. Arctic, the hyperbole and finger-pointing began in earnest.

Rep. Don Young accused President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell of deliberately sabotaging Alaska’s economy. “I’m sure somewhere Sally Jewell and President Obama are smiling and celebrating Shell’s decision to cease operations off the coast of Alaska,” Young said in a statement issued just after Shell’s announcement.

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Curious coincidence involving Shell, Iran, Noble Corp and $2.16 billion

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FROM A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR

The former owners of the Frontier drilling company sold their rigs to Noble for $2.16 billion in 2010. Given that their fleet of five vessels consisted of ancient rust buckets which were fit only for the scrapyard, this has always seemed like an inordinately large sum. The five vessels had been acquired by Frontier for about $100 million. The only client of Frontier was Shell. See http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/06/28/us-noblecorp-idUSTRE65R2C520100628 . (See below)

Noble operated two rigs for Shell in Alaska (Discoverer and Kulluk) during the disastrous 2012 drilling campaign. In spite of their performance in 2012, Noble will once again be operating the Discoverer (now over 50 years old) during the upcoming drilling campaign. Discoverer is one of the rust buckets that Noble acquired from Frontier.  

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Kulluk Grounding: Miracle no injuries or loss of life

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Article by Tim Bradner published 11 April 2014 by the Alaska Journal of Commerce under the headline: Coast Guard: Tug engine failure blamed on water in fuel

It is a mariner’s worst nightmare: At sea, in a bad storm, pulling a heavy load and working to keep control in a dicey situation. Then, all the engines quit. And won’t restart. Precisely this event occurred in late December 2012 to the crew of the Edison Chouest vessel Aiviq as it struggled to keep towlines on Shell’s conical drill vessel Kulluk. The effort failed. The Kulluk went aground off Kodiak Island and was a total loss, which is now well known and documented. It was a miracle that there were no injuries or loss of life, and the evacuation of 18 crewmembers from the Kulluk’s heaving deck by Coast Guard helicopters during the storm was an exploit that should go down in maritime history.

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Shell’s UK corporation tax bill tumbles

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 00.19.29Extracts from an article by ROB DAVIES published 9 April 2014 by This is Money.co.uk under the headline: “Shell’s UK corporation tax bill tumbles by nearly 90 per cent as company invests more in North Sea and production declines”

Shell’s UK corporation tax bill tumbled by nearly 90 per cent to just £55.5m last year, as the company invested more in the North Sea and production declined. Shell’s UK bill fell from £487m last year to £55.5m, less than it paid in Nigeria, Norway, Australia, Malaysia, Canada and Italy.

Shell’s public image was tarnished last week by a report from the US Coastguard which criticised readiness for Alaskan Arctic drilling. …the US Coastguard assessment of Shell’s preparedness was rather more cutting. The report criticised the plan for towing the Kulluk, saying Shell showed a ‘lack of respect’ for the conditions. It also said Shell’s decision to tow the Kulluk to Seattle amid rough winter seas was partly motivated by a desire to cut tax, something former boss Peter Voser denied.

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Poor Management and Tax Dodging Led to Kulluk Grounding

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 09.31.18Article by RACHEL D’ORO Associated Press published 4 April 2014 by ABC NEWS under the headline: “Report: Poor Management Led to Shell Grounding”

A Coast Guard report says poor risk assessment and management were factors that led to the grounding of a Shell oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Alaska in 2012.

The report released Thursday also says Alaska’s tax laws influenced the decision to tow the Kulluk to Seattle. Royal Dutch Shell PLC believed the drill vessel would have qualified as taxable property on Jan. 1, 2013, if it was still in Alaska waters.

The Kulluk broke away from its tow vessel in late December 2012 and ran aground four days later on Sitkalidak Island, near Kodiak.

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Shell’s lavish spending on quixotic drilling adventures

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 15.38.09Shell’s quest for new reserves has seen it pump billions into money-devouring plays such as its Athabasca Oil Sands Project in northern Alberta and the Kashagan oilfield, a deeply troubled project in Kazakhstan. It’s even tried deep water drilling in the high Arctic. That attempt ended when the stormy waters of the Chukchi Sea crippled its Kulluk drilling platform, forcing the company to pull up stakes. Investors can’t simply count on ever rising oil prices to justify Shell’s lavish spending on quixotic drilling adventures around the world.

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Why Turning a Buck Isn’t Easy Anymore for Oil’s Biggest Players

Former Chief Economist, CIBC World Markets

27 Jan 2014

Judging by pump prices, Canadian drivers might think oil companies were rolling in profits that only move higher. Lately, though, the big boys in the global oil industry are finding that earning a buck isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Royal Dutch Shell, for instance, just announced that fourth quarter earnings would fall woefully short of expectations. The Anglo-Dutch energy giant warned its quarterly profits will be down 70 percent from a year earlier. Full-year earnings, meanwhile, are expected to be a little more than half of what they were the previous year.

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Dancing with the Kulluk

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Carey Restino: December 27th 2013

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A year ago, a handful of mariners from private vessels, U.S. Coast Guard crews, and those contracted to work for Shell Oil headed into a tremendous storm in an effort to save a buoy-shaped oil rig from grounding off Kodiak Island. The Kulluk, a Shell Oil drill rig that had been working in the Arctic, was adrift off the coast of Kodiak Island and the tug that had been pulling it had lost all engine power as it attempted to tow the rig from Unalaska to Seattle through a winter storm. Now, a year later, Shell is applying for permission to return to the Arctic in 2014. As federal officials review the application, the magnitude of the attempt to rescue the Kulluk has only been told in pieces. Here is one man’s story of that effort as the chief engineer aboard the responding Crowley tug Alert.

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It’s time to draw a line in the Arctic ice over oil and gas

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  Author: Tavis Potts, Senior Lecturer in Oceans Governance at Scottish Association for Marine Science: 20 Sept 2013

I have a great respect for National Geographic. I’m a card-carrying member with an annual subscription, and I appreciate the balance, depth and understanding they bring to revealing the links between the natural and human world.

So the latest issue had prepared me for a recent debate at the Royal Society in London which examined the question of the Science of Change in the Arctic. It painted a stark and disturbing picture of our planet’s future in terms of the impact of global sea level rise on coastal cities. It dramatically brought home the message that a fossil fuel-driven civilisation has profoundly altered the planet, which by 2070 will put some 150m people and US$35 trillion worth of assets in the world’s coastal cities at risk from flooding. Our desire for carbon intensive energy has raised sea level by 60mm since 1994 and the draft fifth IPCC report predicts a one metre rise by the end of the century. That is a lot of coast underwater.

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EPA fines Shell for Clean Air Act permit violations during offshore oil exploration in Alaska

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 08.47.31Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced settlements with Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc. and Shell Offshore, Inc. for violations of their Clean Air Act permits for arctic oil and gas exploration drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, off the North Slope of Alaska. Based on EPA’s inspections and Shell’s excess emission reports, EPA documented numerous air permit violations for Shell’s Discoverer and Kulluk drill ship fleets, during the approximately two months the vessels operated during the 2012 drilling season. In today’s settlements, Shell has agreed to pay a $710,000 penalty for violations of the Discoverer air permit and a $390,000 penalty for violations of the Kulluk air permit.

Release Date: 09/05/2013
Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, EPA Region 10 Public Affairs, 206-295-4829, [email protected]

(Seattle – September 5, 2013) Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced settlements with Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc. and Shell Offshore, Inc. for violations of their Clean Air Act permits for arctic oil and gas exploration drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, off the North Slope of Alaska.

Based on EPA’s inspections and Shell’s excess emission reports, EPA documented numerous air permit violations for Shell’s Discoverer and Kulluk drill ship fleets, during the approximately two months the vessels operated during the 2012 drilling season.

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Kulluk debacle multibillion-dollar implications for Arctic oil drilling

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Vessel sits in Everett as probe of accident unfolds

By Noah Haglund, Herald Writer:  Published: Sunday, September 1, 2013, EVERETT — The walrus has basked for months in the relative warmth of Port Gardner after an unlucky Alaskan winter.She’s expected to linger on the waterfront, perhaps through the end of the year, in all of her white and blue metallic splendor.The walrus visiting the Port of Everett is no tusked marine mammal. The 360-foot ice-class anchor handler is built to tow Arctic oil rigs.The ship’s given name, Aiviq, means walrus in Inupiaq, a language spoken by northwest Alaska natives.

While physically at a standstill, the Aiviq sits at the center of a federal investigation with multibillion-dollar implications for Arctic oil drilling. The U.S. Coast Guard probe seeks to answer why a massive oil rig the Aiviq was towing last winter broke loose and ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which was overseeing the operation, announced in February it would temporarily freeze its Arctic push. In the meantime, the Aiviq is likely to remain tied up in Everett.

“Our future exploration plans for offshore Alaska will depend on a number of factors,” said Megan Baldino, a Shell Alaska spokeswoman. “That includes the readiness of our rigs and confidence that lessons learned from our 2012 drilling program have been fully incorporated.”

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Report on Kulluk grounding won’t be public until 2014

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By Tim Bradner, Alaska Journal of Commerce:

Published: 2013.08.15 10:55 AM

The U.S. Coast Guard’s marine casualty investigation into the grounding of Shells’ drillship Kulluk in late 2012 will be concluded Aug. 19 but will not likely be made public until after the first of the year, a Coast Guard spokesman in Alaska said Aug. 14.

Coast Guard spokesperson Kip Wadlow said the investigating officer, Cmdr. Joshua McTaggert, will to deliver his report on the accident to the Coast Guard’s Alaska Commander Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo on Aug, 19.

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Kulluk report due in July as hearings end

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Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 00.33.11By Tim Bradner, Alaska Journal of Commerce: June-Issue-2 2013

Two weeks of U.S. Coast Guard hearings on the grounding of Shell’s drill rig Kulluk concluded May 30. A report on conclusions of the inquiry is due in early July, but that deadline may be extended, Coast Guard Lt. Commander Brian McNamara said.

Coast Guard officials are probing Shell’s decisions and risk analysis in sending the drill rig across the Gulf of Alaska under tow during the winter, and whether the proper tugs and tow equipment were used.

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The Argument Against Oil Drilling in Arctic Seas

The panel heard about busted shackles lost at sea. Snapped towlines. Fuel injectors clogged with slime. Forty-foot seas. And harrowing rescue attempts by Coast Guard helicopters to pluck Kulluk crewmembers from a deck that pitched and rolled with each wave. Shell’s Alaska operations manager even admitted the Kulluk left port in Dutch Harbor during the stormiest time of year to avoid paying state taxes, calling into question earlier statements from the same official.

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By ANDREW C. REVKIN: June 5, 2013

The Natural Resources Defense Council has issued a statement concluding that recent events — most notably the grounding of a Shell Oil drilling rig in Alaska — show the oil industry is not ready to safely, cleanly drill offshore in the Arctic.

I agree. There’s no logic for pushing fossil-fuel frontiers this extreme while neglecting energy-efficiency measures at home.

Here’s the group’s argument, which builds on its earlier, and justified, criticism of President Obama’s vague new “National Strategy for the Arctic Region”:

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Frantic but failed effort left Kulluk on the rocks

Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 20.09.51Around Dec. 7, Shell made the decision to leave that month, weather permitting, Churchfield said. The timing stemmed from concerns Shell had about the prospect of millions in state property taxes that could be assessed if the Kulluk were in Alaska at the first of the year, Churchfield told the panel. But the decision to go in December put the Kulluk and Aiviq into a fierce storm.

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Published: June 1, 2013

— [email protected]

Over nine days of testimony that wrapped up last week in Anchorage, witnesses told a Coast Guard panel investigating the Dec. 31 grounding of a Shell drilling rig about equipment failures, fuel problems and human error during the troubled voyage and frantic but failed effort to save the Kulluk. Now it will be up to the Coast Guard panel to determine just what caused the Kulluk to crash onto the rocks south of Kodiak Island.

In the hearing, part of a broader formal marine casualty investigation, boat captains, Royal Dutch Shell executives, a Coast Guard officer and others involved in the troubled tow of the Kulluk added new dimension and detail, along with informed theories, to what’s already known about the near-disaster. Some described how it could have been much worse.

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Coast Guard Concludes Hearing into Kulluk Grounding

The Coast Guard says testimony taken during the formal marine causalty investigation hearing, held in the city Assembly Chambers at the Loussac Library, may lead to anything from new industry requirements to criminal charges.

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May 30, 2013|By Dan Carpenter | Channel 2 News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The U.S. Coast Guard has wrapped up its investigative hearing into the grounding of the Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig Kulluk, after nine days of testimony in Anchorage from key industry and government professionals.

On Thursday, the investigating panel looked into how Shell calculates risks before towing one of its vessels.

Jonathan Wilson, who managed the recovery tow of the Kulluk from Kiliuda Bay to Dutch Harbor in February, spoke over the phone from London. Wilson says the job was considered a “critical tow” due to a number of factors, including the state of the rig after it was damaged during its Dec. 31 grounding on Sitkalidak Island near Kodiak.

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Shell contractor testifies tow setup for Kulluk was modified

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By LISA DEMER — [email protected]: Published May 28, 2013

An employee for a Shell contractor testified Tuesday that a heavy chain — which investigators indicated can be used to absorb the force of rough weather — was eliminated from the towing setup for Shell’s drilling rig, the Kulluk, because of concerns about handling the gear.

William Hebert works for Delmar, a Louisiana offshore oil field services company, and was sent to Alaska to serve as “rig move coordinator” for the Kulluk. He testified on Day 7 of a Coast Guard hearing investigating the Kulluk’s Dec. 31 grounding in a fierce Gulf of Alaska storm.

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Shell says Kulluk left Dutch Harbor to avoid taxes

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 01.26.25A Royal Dutch Shell official testified Saturday that tax avoidance was the main reason for having the Kulluk oil drilling rig leave Dutch Harbor in December — 10 days before its grounding off a remote Alaska island.

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Saturday May 25, 2013

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Royal Dutch Shell official testified Saturday that tax avoidance was the main reason for having the Kulluk oil drilling rig leave Dutch Harbor in December — 10 days before its grounding off a remote Alaska island.

“Our preference for the timing was to be gone before the end of the year, driven by the economic factors,” Sean Churchfield, operations manager for Royal Dutch Shell in Alaska, told a Coast Guard panel that’s investigating the incident.

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Kulluk grounding: Shell Oil testimony opens Coast Guard hearing in Anchorage

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Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 20.09.51Suzanna Caldwell:May 20, 2013

A subdued Anchorage Assembly chambers turned into a federal courtroom of sorts Monday as members of the U.S. Coast Guard questioned Royal Dutch Shell officials over the grounding of one of its prized Arctic drilling vessels in stormy Gulf of Alaska winter weather.

The Coast Guard’s formal marine casualty investigation hearings began by recounting events leading to the New Year’s Eve grounding of the Kulluk conical drilling unit off the shores of Sitkalidak Island, near Kodiak Island.

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Coast Guard hearing on Shell drill-rig grounding set to start May 20

 The Coast Guard already has referred possible pollution violations involving the Kulluk and safety and environmental issues with Shell’s other drilling rig, the Noble Discoverer, to the Justice Department.

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Published 13 May 2013

A formal Coast Guard hearing investigating the circumstances of the grounding of Royal Dutch Shell’s drilling rig, the Kulluk, begins at noon May 20 in Anchorage.

The hearing will take place in the Anchorage Assembly chambers at Loussac Library and is scheduled for 10 days, though it could wrap up sooner or go longer, said Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow.

Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, who is the commander of the Coast Guard in Alaska, ordered a marine casualty investigation days after the Dec. 31 grounding off Sitkalidak Island, on the southern end of Kodiak Island. The investigation is a fact-finding effort to see if actions need to be taken to prevent such failures in the future, Wadlow said. It is not a criminal proceeding. The Coast Guard already has referred possible pollution violations involving the Kulluk and safety and environmental issues with Shell’s other drilling rig, the Noble Discoverer, to the Justice Department.

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Selection of Shell related article 26 April 2013

Selection of Shell related article links kindly supplied by a regular contributor

What If Oil Lasts Forever?: National Journal-Apr 25, 2013: Shell Oil Company’s Deer Park refinery and petrochemical facility by Highway 225 in Deer Park, Texas, Nov. 21, 2007. (AP Photo/David J.

Oil Giants Eschew Arctic Drilling: Indian Country Today Media Network-Shell Oil’s drilling unit the Kulluk ran aground, battered by waves, on an island south of Anchorage, Alaska, after breaking free of its moorings.

Fmr. Shell CEO: Keystone will loosen OPEC’s grip: Washington Post-Former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister says the Obama … cars en masse on the road, and says exporting liquefied natural gas might be …

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Deluded and or ignorant, no, Roland Spuij is just reading from a script

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 00.00.30“…why spoil a good story by the introduction of facts including the facts about Shell’s great Alaskan misadventure for example…”

COMMENT RECEIVED FROM MR BILL CAMPBELL, RETIRED HSE GROUP AUDITOR, SHELL INTERNATIONAL RE OUR ARTICLE ABOUT SHELL EXPLORATION MANAGER ROLAND SPUIJ (PERSON ON RIGHT)

TALKING THE TALK

Re your article: Shell exploration manager Roland Spuij – deluded or ignorant?

Deluded and or ignorant, no, Mr Spuij is just reading from the script, repeating the standard Shell propaganda that Safety is our No 1 priority and will never be compromised, despite any facts to the contrary.

Although as he says Shell were not involved in the Transocean Deepwater Horizon disaster – according to Peter R Voser a disaster that Shell in any case would have avoided due to its superior standards – he fails to mention the Transocean SEDCO 711 incident when this mobile drilling unit had a near blowout whilst operating in the North Sea on behalf of Shell – you covered all this in detail at the time on your web pages.

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The danger of getting into bed with Shell

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By John Donovan

Marvin Odum, the President of Shell Oil Company, has said that “Royal Dutch Shell is making a significant push into venture capital investing and collaboration with early-stage startups in the energy space.”

See Wall Street Journal article “Shell Looks for Startup, Tech Partnerships Now More than Ever“.

This initiative is designed to find and exploit good ideas created by start-up companies.

But can such companies trust Shell management not to steal their intellectual property? 

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Report Says Shell Unprepared for Arctic Drilling

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska March 15, 2013 (AP)

Shell was not fully prepared when it launched its trouble-plagued Arctic offshore drilling program last year, and the oil company also fell short in overseeing key contractors in the effort, according to a federal report released Thursday.

The report follows a 60-day review by the Interior Department that focused on problems Royal Dutch Shell PLC experienced with its drilling vessels and a spill containment vessel. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the company will have to submit more comprehensive plans before it would be allowed to operate in the Arctic again.

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Tugs towing Shell drill vessel to Dutch Harbor

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A Royal Dutch Shell PLC drilling barge that ran aground New Year’s Eve is on the move from near Kodiak Island in Alaska to Dutch Harbor.

The Associated Press: Originally published February 26, 2013 at 7:18 PM | Page modified February 26, 2013 at 7:21 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska —

A Royal Dutch Shell PLC drilling barge that ran aground New Year’s Eve is on the move from near Kodiak Island in Alaska to Dutch Harbor.

Shell spokesman Curtis Smith says in an email to The Associated Press that the Kulluk left the bay Tuesday afternoon. Three tugs are towing the barge in a journey expecteKd to take about 10 days.

The Kulluk drilled in the Beaufort (BOH’-fort) Sea last year and was being towed to Seattle when it broke loose from its towing vessel. The round drilling barge ran aground New Year’s Eve.

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Shell comedy continues: Tugs collide while maneuvering around Kulluk

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By LISA DEMER — [email protected]: Published: February 19, 2013

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“The Coast Guard is reviewing Shell’s tow plan and evaluating whether the vessel is seaworthy for a tow…”

Two tugboats maneuvering around Royal Dutch Shell’s oil drilling rig, the Kulluk, collided Friday afternoon, but the damage was minimal, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.

The Corbin Foss, one of Seattle-based Foss Maritimes’ tugboats, hit the port side of the Ocean Wave, a Crowley Marine Services tug, around 5:30 p.m. Friday in Killiuida Bay on the eastern side of Kodiak Island, where the Kulluk is anchored while awaiting Coast Guard approval to leave, said Petty Officer David Mosley.

No one was injured, no pollution occurred, and the damage to the Ocean Wave was minor, Mosely said. The tugs sailed to the harbor in Kodiak where they were met by inspectors from Kodiak’s Coast Guard marine safety detachment, Mosley said.

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Setback for Shell’s Arctic oil ambitions as rigs require repair in Asia

Royal Dutch Shell’s hopes of resuming drilling for oil off Alaska this summer have suffered a further setback after it revealed both its Arctic drilling rigs would now need to be taken to Asia for repairs.

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Kulluk, the oil drilling rig owned by Royal Dutch Shell ran aground in Alaska after drifting in stormy weather. Photo: AFP

Emily GosdenBy : 13 Feb 2013

The oil giant has admitted it does not know whether it will be able to continue its controversial campaign this year after a series of setbacks in 2012, including the grounding of its Kulluk drilling rig on New Year’s Eve and problems with its second rig, the Noble Discoverer.

However its exploration plans for 2013, set out a fortnight ago, showed it still was still intending to resume the work. It has so far spent nearly $5bn on its Arctic campaign without being allowed to drill into potentially oil-bearing rocks.

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Shell To Face Challenges Replacing Damaged Arctic Rigs

Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s plans to send its two offshore drilling rigs to Asia for extensive repairs will likely mean the cancellation of its second summer of drilling in the U.S. Arctic Ocean, unless it can find replacements fit to do the work – something that may prove to be a challenge.

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By Tom Fowler Published February 12, 2013 Dow Jones Newswires

Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s (RDSA) plans to send its two offshore drilling rigs to Asia for extensive repairs will likely mean the cancellation of its second summer of drilling in the U.S. Arctic Ocean, unless it can find replacements fit to do the work – something that may prove to be a challenge.

Rigs able to operate in harsh Arctic conditions are rare and even if found, would have to be modified and receive U.S. government blessing to operate in a remote and environmentally sensitive area in less than five months.

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Royal Dutch Shell Kulluk Cover-up?

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POSTING ON SHELL BLOG BY “OUTSIDER”

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 19.35.08Dry towing a drillship? Something must be very seriously wrong. And when the Kulluk comes out of the water the damage to the hull will be clear for all to see – look forward to seeing the photographs!

RELATED COMMENT

The practice of dry towing is used when a vessel is transported on the deck of a heavy lift vessel.
 
For the Kulluk, this will expose the damaged underside for all to see. Dry towing of the Kulluk makes sense because the speed of the heavy lift vessel is 2-3 times faster than could be achieved with a conventional tow.
 
Dry towing of the Discoverer is somewhat unusual because the drillship should have been capable of sailing under its own steam at about the same speed as a heavy lift transport vessel. The use of a dry tow implies that the vessel is unseaworthy. Perhaps the Discoverer was more seriously damaged when it went aground last summer than Shell admitted? Or perhaps the recent explosion was more than just a “backfire”?
 
It’s a pity the exclusion zone will prevent anyone taking photographs when the vessels are lifted out of the water.
 
If you look at Google images, you’ll find plenty of examples of heavy lift dry tows. There are comparatively few examples of large ships being dry towed, but a well-publicised case was the USS Cole (heading photo above) after it was attacked in harbour. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Cole_bombing for example.

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Shell Vessels Sidelined, Imperiling Arctic Plans

In another blow to its Alaskan Arctic drilling program, Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday that it had decided to tow its two drill vessels there to Asian ports for major repairs, jeopardizing its plans to begin drilling for oil in the icy northern seas next summer. Shell executives said the Kulluk had sustained damage to its hull…”; “The Noble Discoverer dragged its anchor last July and nearly ran aground on the Alaska coast, and four months later it was damaged by an explosion and fire…

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By A version of this article appeared in print on February 12, 2013, on page B1 of the New York edition

HOUSTON — In another blow to its Alaskan Arctic drilling program, Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday that it had decided to tow its two drill vessels there to Asian ports for major repairs, jeopardizing its plans to begin drilling for oil in the icy northern seas next summer.

The new potential delay in drilling does not necessarily doom Shell’s seven-year, $4.5 billion quest to open a new oil frontier in the far north, but it may strengthen the position of environmentalists who have repeatedly sued to stop or postpone exploration that they claim carries the risks of a spill nearly impossible to clean up.

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Selection of Shell related articles 8 February 2013

Selection of Shell related article links kindly supplied by a regular contributor

Stranded Shell drill vessel won’t face state tax: FuelFix (blog)-State oil and gas attorney Martin Schultz said the policy covers the Kulluk. “It’s a pretty straightforward interpretation as it applies to the Shell …

G8 and Nigeria’s Oil Wealth: Corruption and Wealth of a Nation: GroundReport-The discovery of oil in 1950s by Shell BP has complicated Nigerian project and the realization of a true nationhood. The ruling class was not …

Letter: You should be outraged at how this oil giant pollutes our …: River Falls Journal-Feb 7, 2013: The Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company, the most carbon-intensive oil company in the world, will contribute more to global warming than any other …

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Shell vows to tame Arctic

Shell’s chief executive has vowed that a string of embarrassing mishaps will not derail its controversial $5 billion Arctic drilling campaign. He said: “We will not be distracted by being in the crossfire.

THE TIMES

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 1 2013: Page 45

Tim Webb. Katherine Griffiths

Shell’s chief executive has vowed that a string of embarrassing mishaps will not derail its controversial $5 billion Arctic drilling campaign.

Dismissing the grounding of its Kulluk drilling rig in Alaska on New Year’s Eve as a “marine incident”, Peter Voser said that he was convinced that Shell would eventually exploit the Arctic region’s vast deposits.

He said: “We will not be distracted by being in the crossfire. We are quite used to that I’m convinced that Alaska in general will be developed and by companies who have the tech- nology and operating procedures like we have. I see Shell operating in Alaska in the future.”

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Will the shale-oil revolution sink Shell’s Arctic ambitions?

Alex DeMarban | Jan 20, 2013

Perhaps more important than the clamor of environmentalists, the grandstanding of politicians, or the blunders of Royal Dutch Shell‘s own making is how long oil prices will remain high enough to support Arctic exploration in northern Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Not long, believes one analyst watching the clouds gather over the Lower 48, where a shale-oil boom and new railroad projects are expected to push more oil toward the same West Coast refineries where Alaska crude is processed.

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Kulluk provides lesson in humility, Murphy’s law

Unlike some of Shell’s critics outside, we know the Gulf isn’t the Arctic, the Beaufort isn’t the Bering, Wainwright isn’t Dutch. But geography isn’t the issue here. It’s Shell’s judgment and operations.

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013 10:47 pm

“If there is to be a path forward with respect to offshore energy development in the Arctic it would be wise not only for Shell but for all oil companies attempting to engage this challenging environment to temper their path with the prudent and more productive human quality of humility.”

— veteran marine pilot Peter Garay, in a May 2010 Anchorage Daily News Compass commentary

There once was an oil company named Humble, but it’s not a quality most of us associate with the industry. High-stakes risk is inherent in oil exploration, so the industry naturally has people willing and able to take chances.

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U.K. Government Rejects Lawmakers’ Calls to Halt Arctic Oil Drilling

01/14/2013| 07:16pm US/Eastern

By Selina Williams

LONDON–The U.K. government has rejected lawmakers’ calls for a halt to Arctic oil and gas drilling, despite renewed safety concerns following the recent grounding of Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s (RDSA, RDSA.LN, RDSB.LN) Kulluk rig off Alaska, saying that securing global energy supplies was paramount.

The U.K. government’s comments, published Tuesday, come as Shell Monday said it had safely towed the Kulluk rig to safe harbor on Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. The rig ran aground in stormy weather Dec. 31 while under tow, further highlighting fears about the environmental risks of oil extraction in the Arctic.

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Refusal over Arctic drilling ban

MPs on the all-party Environmental Audit Committee say the UK has a moral responsibility. The committee held an enquiry into protection of the Arctic last year. As part of the investigation they questioned Shell. They are now recalling the firm for enquiries since its drill rig Kulluk ran aground in Alaska this month.

Roger Harrabin By Roger Harrabin Environment analyst: Published 15 January 2013

The UK government has refused to support a moratorium on Arctic drilling, despite new concerns after the grounding of a Shell oil rig.

Ministers say that existing efforts to protect the Arctic environment are more likely to be effective than a ban.

They say it’s inappropriate for the UK to take the lead on strategy as it is not an Arctic state.

But MPs on the all-party Environmental Audit Committee say the UK has a moral responsibility.

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Another Stumble in the Quest for Arctic Oil

Shell has provided a helpful window into what a future of offshore drilling in the Arctic would look like, and it looks disastrous.

Extracts from article published 13 Jan 2013:

Another Stumble in the Quest for Arctic Oil

Shell’s decision to tow its drill rig from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to Seattle for repairs in the middle of the winter was bewildering. It’s a time when storms are frequent and waves of the sort encountered by the Kulluk are common, and it wasn’t long before the rig and the ship towing it, the Aiviq, ran into potentially life-threatening danger.

The episode was an exclamation mark on a disastrous season in the Arctic for Shell, whose track record before this latest accident would have been humorous were the safety and environmental implications not so grave. At every step, from construction to transport to testing, the company proved itself entirely unprepared for life in Alaskan waters.

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For all but Shell, Alaska risks outweighed the benefits

In an April document entitled “-48° C,” Lloyd’s of London – a British insurance giant – claimed that “cleaning up any oil spill in the Arctic, particularly in ice-covered areas, would present multiple obstacles which together constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk.” In July, British Petroleum – which had run the Deepwater Horizon platform – withdrew its own bid to drill in the arctic due to incalculable “costs” of any accidents there. In February 2012, the US Government Accountability Office issued a warning. “Oil and gas exploration and production off the coast of Alaska is likely to encounter environmental and logistical risks that differ from those in the Gulf of Mexico because of the region’s cold and icy conditions.” Statoil suspended its own plans for drilling in the Alaskan Arctic in August.

“Once-in-a-generation” oil and natural gas fields apparently lured the Royal Dutch Shell company into ignoring clear dangers about drilling in the Alaskan Arctic. It could soon be paying the price.

While environmentalists might be breathing a sigh of relief that the Kulluk oil rig didn’t spill a drop of its 150,000 gallons of oil after running aground off the coast of Alaska late last December, the Royal Dutch Shell company is likely still holding its breath.

On January 3, a group of 45 Democratic congressmen from the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition called for a formal investigation of the Kulluk incident in order to determine whether Shell should be allowed to continue drilling for oil in Alaskan waters – into which Shell has invested $5 billion (3.75 billion euros).

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Shell faces fresh scrutiny over Alaskan drilling

The pressure is mounting on Shell to abandon its quest for Arctic oil after the US government ordered two reviews into the company’s activities off the Alaskan coast… after a series of accidents in the area involving its ships, rigs and equipment that culminated in the grounding of the rig Kulluk… The US Coastguard…opened an investigation… which could lead to civil or criminal penalties for Shell or its staff.

The pressure is mounting on Shell to abandon its quest for Arctic oil after the US government ordered two reviews into the company’s activities off the Alaskan coast that could halt its planned drilling campaign.

The Obama administration has ordered a sweeping review of Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic after a series of accidents in the area involving its ships, rigs and equipment that culminated in the grounding of the rig Kulluk near an Alaskan island on New Year’s Eve.

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SHELL’S ALASKAN FOLLY

Do we really need to have another disaster on the scale of Piper Alpha or Alexander Kielland before Shell starts to apply the same standards to their Alaskan operations as are applied to their international operations? Has anyone ever heard of a 47 year old drilling vessel being used in the Arctic in Norway, or even a 30 year old drilling vessel? Or helicopters without de-icing equipment? Shell has lost control of both of their vessels in Alaska, leading to well publicised groundings. Why do we never hear of loss of control incidents and vessels running aground in the Norwegian Arctic?

COMMENT ON SHELL’S ALASKAN FOLLY BY AN EXPERT

Many of your readers will be familiar with the two major North Sea disasters (Piper Alpha and Alexander Kielland) which together resulted in 290 deaths in the 1980s. Those with longer memories will remember the Sea Gem which was lost (with 13 lives) while being moved in December 1965.
 
These vessels were all constructed in accordance with the standards in force at the time. The standards simply could not have anticipated the ferocity of the conditions under which the vessels would be used, or the specifics of the export system to which the Piper Alpha platform was attached.
 
As suggested by Tennille Tracy’s article, standards are created to address the circumstances of accidents/incidents that have already happened. They cannot anticipate new circumstances and are usually the result of compromises which try to balance the economic costs of applying new standards with the perceived benefits. The Cullen Report into the Piper Alpha disaster proposed the use of Safety Cases which would review both operating practices and equipment standards for specific anticipated circumstances. The Safety Case approach has been adopted globally (outside the US) and has undoubtedly contributed to the fall in the number of accidents/incidents in the offshore oil and gas industry.
 
The US should have learned a lesson from BP’s Macondo disaster, but continues to rely on standards which were written long before deep water or arctic drilling was even considered: fortunately most international operators have their own internal standards (which are required to support their Safety Cases) which far exceed the minima of the applicable statutory requirements, if indeed such statutory requirements exist. However, when no internal operator standard is available and costs can be reduced by applying legal minima, the application of standards written for a different world may result in a disaster. Most US standards are based on operations in the Gulf of Mexico or on land, so it is hardly surprising that they are inadequate for the Arctic.
 
Do we really need to have another disaster on the scale of Piper Alpha or Alexander Kielland before Shell starts to apply the same standards to their Alaskan operations as are applied to their international operations? Has anyone ever heard of a 47 year old drilling vessel being used in the Arctic in Norway, or even a 30 year old drilling vessel? Or helicopters without de-icing equipment? Shell has lost control of both of their vessels in Alaska, leading to well publicised groundings. Why do we never hear of loss of control incidents and vessels running aground in the Norwegian Arctic?
 
The Noble Discoverer was designed long before the Sea Gem accident, and the Kulluk long before Piper Alpha: the creation of new standards will not fix the shortcomings inherent in their designs. 

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Shell’s Alaska Rig Debacle — Just the Tip of the Iceberg?

While one Shell spokesman confirmed that the tax structure influenced the timing of the move, a second spokesman insisted it was driven by safety concerns for voyage, as two weeks of favorable weather were forecast for the trip. Worse than gales in the Beaufort Sea for Royal Dutch Shell PLC in the wake of the incident is the dreaded reappearance of corporate America’s most feared nemesis, Congressional oversight, a development that will earn Shell little gratitude from other energy companies.

By: John Daly: Published: Tuesday, 8 Jan 2013 | 1:38 PM ET

Whether one believes 100 percent in the science behind global warming, the fact is that the northern polar ice cap is in retreat, sparking an energy resource scramble among those nations with northern littorals. The U.S., Canada, the Russian Federation, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland) have all rushed to stake sovereign claims on previously ice-bound waters off their coasts, resulting in an energy land rush for subsea hydrocarbon riches.

But working in the extreme Arctic conditions brings its own set of technical hazards, highlighted by the grounding of Royal Dutch Shell’s Kulluk rig on the rocks off Sitkalidak Island on 31 December, after being battered by a northern Pacific gale. In a timeline of accidents, a line between the Aiviq tug and the Kulluk broke, as did four reattached lines between the Aiviq and other vessels in the stormy weather, and the Aiviq’s four engines failed.

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Safe harbor, uncertain future for Shell’s Arctic rig

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy | January 7, 2013 | Updated: January 7, 2013 11:01pm

WASHINGTON – A massive campaign to free a grounded Arctic drilling rig that involved more than a dozen ships and some 730 people cleared a big hurdle Monday, as salvagers pulled the vessel to safe harbor in Alaska.

Salvage crews anchored the Kulluk rig in Kodiak Island’s sheltered Kiliuda Bay, where it arrived Monday morning. Three support vessels remained attached to the Kulluk.

For Shell, which owns the 266-foot conical drilling unit and planned to use it to continue a $5 billion quest for Arctic oil this summer, the work is just beginning.

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Platform-free oil in Arctic waters within striking distance

Balazs Koranyi Reuters: 9:08 a.m. CST, January 7, 2013

OSLO (Reuters) – Lying at the bottom of a giant water-filled pit in western Norway, a thousand-ton gas compressor is humming along, going through grueling tests as engineers prepare it to change oil and gas production for good.

The compressor, a prototype for Royal Dutch Shell’s massive Ormen Lange natural gas field in the Norwegian Sea, will help make platform-free offshore production, the Holy Grail for oil firms, a reality within a decade.

The new technology will have particular meaning for places such as Alaska, where the grounding of Shell’s Kulluk rig on New Year’s Eve stirred opposition to rigs in environmentally delicate and technologically challenging places.

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Shell oil drilling vessel towed after running aground off Alaska island during storm

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Royal Dutch Shell PLC drill vessel pulled from rocks off a remote Alaska island approached shelter Monday morning in a protected Kodiak Island bay.

By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, January 7, 6:55 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Royal Dutch Shell PLC drill vessel pulled from rocks off a remote Alaska island approached shelter Monday morning in a protected Kodiak Island bay.The Kulluk, a circular drill barge without its own propulsion, ran aground New Year’s Eve in a powerful storm. It was being towed to Seattle for maintenance before it ran aground, but the lines that connected it to the towing ship broke. That same ship, the 360-foot Aiviq, pulled the Kulluk off the rocky bottom near Sitkalidak Island at 10:10 p.m. Sunday and started a slow tow toward Kiliuda Bay.High winds and sea swells threatened to slow the barge’s 30-mile journey to the bay. But the ship made steady progress, moving about 4 mph. By 9 a.m., the vessels were about four miles from where crews planned to anchor up.

The massive effort to move and salvage the ship involves more than 730 people, according to the Unified Command, which includes the Coast Guard, Shell and contractors involved in the tow and salvage operation. Eleven people are aboard the ship — a salvage crew of 10 people and one Shell representative.

The Kulluk is carrying more than 140,000 gallons of diesel and about 12,000 gallons of lube oil and hydraulic fluid.

A tug trailing the drill vessel used infrared equipment to watch for oil sheens and reported no petroleum discharge.

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Arctic drilling – cold feet

FROM THE FINANCIAL TIMES JAN 7, 2013

Cold, wet and windy in those Alaska waters. An accident involving Shell’s Kulluk oil drilling rig over the new year has set alarm bells ringing…

…only technology can reduce the risks. Until it is developed further, there is no need to rush into such stormy waters.

FULL FT ARTICLE

Towing of Shell Alaska oil rig off rocks set to begin

(Reuters) – A recovery team was poised to start towing a grounded Shell oil rig off rocks near an Alaska island, assuming the weather allows, the team said late on Sunday.

A tow line was attached to the Kulluk drillship on Sunday at about 4 p.m. (1:00 a.m. British time) and all elements were in place for towing operations to proceed on Monday, a statement from the joint command centre for the Kulluk responders said.

Yet weather in the area remains a challenge, with the National Weather Service issuing a gale warning through Sunday night and forecasting rain, snow and winds of between 15 and 30 miles an hour.

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Gulf of Alaska storms vs. Kulluk drilling rig

Unbelievably, a Shell Oil spokesman said, that forecasts indicated  a favorable two-week weather window. This is at odds with the facts.

Cliff Mass | Jan 06, 2013

The storms win.

Shell Oil made a misguided and poorly informed decision to move a huge drilling platform (the Kulluk) from Dutch Harbor Alaska to Seattle starting Dec. 21. As described in the Seattle Times and elsewhere the problems grew from broken tow lines and faulty engines on December 26th, to the eventual grounding the Kulluk on an island just south of Kodiak island on Dec. 31.

Anyone familiar with the meteorology of the North Pacific and the Gulf of Alaska knows that this region is one of the stormiest on the planet with one major storm after another during midwinter.  Unbelievably, a Shell Oil spokesman said, that forecasts indicated  a favorable two-week weather window. This is at odds with the facts. First, as I will show below the forecasts on the day they left clearly suggested the potential for big storms during the 3-4 week voyage to Seattle, including the first week. Second, forecast skill drops substantially after 4-6 days and thus there was no guarantee of fair weather for this difficult tow.

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Vosers Holed Arctic Superbucket

John,

Just wondered how Voser’s Superbucket performed in the Arctic!

This cartoon character depicts the goings on in the HAGUE OFFICE in response to the PR hogwash.

Shell to Tow Grounded Alaska Drill Rig 30 Miles in Recovery Plan

By Isaac Arnsdorf – Jan 6, 2013 8:48 AM GMT

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) plans to tow the drilling rig that ran aground in Alaska about 30 miles to a safe harbor after naval architects determined the vessel is safe to move.

The Kulluk, which ran aground after breaking from a tow boat during a storm on Dec. 31, will be moved to Kiliuda Bay, where more tests can be conducted, according to a Jan. 5 statement on the website of the Unified Command in Anchorage. The timing depends on weather, tides and readiness.

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US Army joins battle to save stricken Shell rig

Adding to Shell’s problems, one of the company’s leading shareholders told The Sunday Telegraph that the market was “nervous” about the Arctic as there would be “hell to pay” in the event of a spill.

The US Army has been called in to help with the battle to salvage Royal Dutch Shell’s stricken Kulluk Arctic drilling rig, which has now been beached in environmentally delicate waters for nearly a week.

By : Sunday Telegraph 6 Jan 2013

The Kulluk, one of two rigs crucial to Shell’s controversial Arctic oil exploration plans, ran aground on New Year’s Eve as it was hit by a fierce storm while being towed to Seattle for maintenance.

Two Chinook helicopters from the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade flew to the scene on Friday to help transport heavy equipment for the salvage operations.

Three vessels are on site and a further 12 en route, according to the Unified Command managing the incident yesterday.

The Kulluk “continues to remain stable and upright and there is no evidence of sheen in the vicinity,” it said, indicating that the 143,000 gallons of diesel and 12,000 gallons of other oil products on board had not leaked.

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8 reasons why Shell can’t be trusted in the Arctic

Shell’s most recent ‘mishap’ a few days ago was not the first setback the oil giant has suffered in its plans to drill for oil in the Arctic. In fact, it’s the eighth in a growing list of reasons why Shell should not be trusted in the Arctic.

1. Shell has no idea how much an oil spill clean-up would cost

In March 2012, in response to questions from the UK’s Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, Peter Velez, Shell’s head of emergency response in the Arctic admitted that Shell had not assessed the costs of a clean-up operation in the Arctic, leaving shareholders exposed to potentially huge financial losses.

2. Shell’s barge, the Arctic Challenger, was not deemed safe enough by the US government

In July last year the US authorities announced that a key part of Shell’s oil spill response fleet hadn’t been allowed to sail to the Arctic because it did not meet US Coast Guard safety standards. The ship, Arctic Challenger, is a 36-year-old barge used to drag safety equipment through sea ice. But US authorities are not happy with what they’ve seen on-board and didn’t feel confident the Arctic Challenger could withstand the extremely harsh Arctic environment. Originally Shell agreed that the ship would be able to withstand a 100-year storm, but company engineers are now saying that it is “no longer appropriate” for the barge to meet such onerous standards.

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