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Posts Tagged ‘Noble Discoverer’

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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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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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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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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Undisclosed misadventures of the Noble Discoverer

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Nobel Discoverer Grounding. Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

By John Donovan

As hinted at in my recent email to a senior official at Royal Dutch Shell Plc, we have received further information from the same whistleblower source who supplied a leaked copy of the Shell internal Pre-Start Up Audit for Shell’s disastrous Alaska drilling campaign.

This  is the source who also tipped us off about the sacking of David Lawrence a day before the news broke in the mainstream media.

Shell has investigated several billion dollars thus far in its Arctic Campaign without a single well being sunk. It has retreated in disgrace from the Arctic with its offshore reputation in tatters with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior aptly describing its campaign as a “screw-up“.

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Noble Discoverer Loaded Onto Transport Ship

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March 2, 2013 11:06 pm

Guided by powerful tugs, Shell Oil’s drilling rig, the Noble Discoverer, began its slow but steady journey from the Alaska Railroad Dock to the waiting semi-submerged transport ship around 6:30 am on Saturday morning. Calm seas helped make this delicate operation much easier.

FULL ARTICLE WITH SEVERAL PHOTOGRAPHS

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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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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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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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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The BP disaster: Who said ‘this would be impossible in Shell?’

COMMENT RECEIVED FROM A SHELL RELATED SOURCE

Amidst all the news on Kulluk, let’s not forget about the other one

This is what you get if you use old stuff from the scrap yard…

Remember the hypocritical “blistering attack” by Shell CEO Peter Voser on BP over the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill:

Voser promised that Shell would never make the same mistakes as BP.

Since then, blunders and corner-cutting has led to the current debacle.

To me it is all about technical competence.

Many moons ago the Troll project was delivered on time and within budget. This was more innovative and challenging than drilling some wells in Alaska. But then we had the likes of Chapman in charge and not corner-cutting bean-counters like Voser and Henry.

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Shell Says Arctic Drilling Rig Kulluk Recaptured in Stormy Seas

By Jim Polson – Dec 30, 2012 7:05 PM GMT

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) said an Arctic drilling barge, headed to Seattle for maintenance, was safely recovered yesterday after being set adrift during a storm in the Gulf of Alaska.

Crew of the Shell-owned barge, Kulluk, were evacuated last night as a precaution after towing resumed, said Curtis Smith, an Alaska-based Shell spokesman, in a telephone interview today. The offshore tug Aiviq recovered the Kulluk.

Shell has invested $4.5 billion in offshore leases and equipment and fought at least 50 lawsuits from environmental groups to begin drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas this year, the first wells in U.S. Arctic waters in about 20 years. The Kulluk was in need of maintenance after starting a well in the Beaufort Sea, Smith said.

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Post-mortem on Shell Noble Discoverer “grounding”

COMMENT FROM A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR

John,

I would like to point out that while at high tide the Shell/Noble Discoverer drill ship that slipped it anchor may indeed not have run aground  per se,(or grounded in a very muddy bottom preventing any damage) the photos show that at low tide the ship may have indeed been resting on good old ‘terra firma’. This seems to be readily apparent from elevated position of the bow of the ship in some of the photos, as well as the proximity of land to the stern of the vessel (we are talking a few ten’s of feet here at the most, and the draft of that vessel is reported to be 26 feet.’).

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Time ticking on Shell’s offshore Arctic drilling

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, July 25 | Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:18pm EDT

(Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell’s plans to drill exploratory wells in remote Arctic waters off Alaska are being hampered by its failure to secure key regulatory approvals and lingering sea ice, which have already led to a three-week delay.

Shell had hoped to use this year’s brief, ice-free season to drill up to three exploratory wells in the remote Chukchi Sea off northwestern Alaska and up to two in the Beaufort Sea off the state’s northern coast. The company has similar plans for 2013.

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Shell: Alaska drillship didn’t run aground

Published: July 20, 2012 at 5:57 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, July 20 (UPI) — Divers from Shell confirmed that the Noble Discoverer drillship didn’t run aground after it slipped its anchor off the Alaskan coast, the company said.

Shell said the drillship slipped anchor and drifted about 300 feet toward the Alaskan coast. It was towed to its original position this week. There were no injuries or pollution reported from the incident.

“While an internal investigation will determine why the Discoverer slipped anchor, we are pleased with the speed and effectiveness of the mitigation measures we had in place,” the company said in a statement.

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Shell Ignoble Discoverer

This photograph of the hapless “rusty barge” Noble Discoverer, which has made an embarrassing debut in Arctic waters, is one of a number that are the subject of controversy on Facebook as to their authenticity. 

Some related comments from a Shell retiree about the apparent grounding in Dutch Harbor…

…looks genuine. To Photoshop all those pics would be quite some work. And Shell’s denial sounds a bit lame. I would put my money on it this has really happened! Old rusty barge.  Shell claims to have spent a few billion on this project. If that is so, why not get a decent rig.

It is laughable, you just have to sit back and wait until Shell shoots themselves in the foot. You cannot make these things up, nobody would believe you. But it still happens. And the denial is like the denial of the minister of publicity in Iraq when they were overrun and he was still on TV stating they had nearly driven the Americans out of the country….

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Shell nearly finished modifying Arctic drill ship

Shell nearly finished modifying Arctic drill ship

From the air, the Arctic drill ship Kulluk looks like a giant bowling pin seated on a shallow bowl.

By TED WARREN and DAN JOLING

Associated Press: Friday 25 May 2012

SEATTLE —

From the air, the Arctic drill ship Kulluk looks like a giant bowling pin seated on a shallow bowl.

With the centerpiece of the ship, the 160-foot derrick, Shell Oil hopes to send down drill bits and pipe to tap vast oil reserves below the Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s north coast. But it’s the funnel-shape hull, with its flared sides, that makes the ship appropriate for Arctic Ocean waters, according to the company.

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