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Galgary Herald: Shell beefs up its Gulf platform

Royal Dutch Shell PLC installed tougher clamps on its Mars platform, the biggest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico, to protect the $1-billion US structure from hurricane damage.

Shell finished installing a drilling rig aboard Mars Tuesday that buckled under the force of waves and wind during hurricane Katrina in August 2005, spokeswoman Darci Sinclair said. The work included stronger deck clamps to prevent the 1,000-tonne rig from collapsing onto other equipment during storms, Sinclair said.

Oil production from the platform 209 kilometres southeast of New Orleans was shut down for nine months after Katrina swept through the Gulf. The drilling rig fell onto the deck and a 12-tonne anchor slashed through subsea pipelines.

“During Katrina, the storm actually lifted the rig off of the platform and then dropped it down on the topsides,” Sinclair said. “This is designed to prevent that from happening again.”

The Hague-based company plans to install the new clamps on its other Gulf of Mexico platforms and rigs, she said. Shell expects to spend $250 million to $300 million to repair Katrina damage. The Atlantic Ocean hurricane season usually runs from June through November.

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