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UpstreamOnline: Shell defrosts Kulluk for Beafort work

By Upstream staff

Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell has resurrected an Arctic drillship that has spent 13 years anchored near the Canadian port of Tuktoyaktuk for its forthcoming drilling campaign in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea.

The company is wrapping up a major overhaul of the vessel, which was left unused when interest in drilling in the region waned in the early 1990s.

Houston-based Frontier Drilling, operating through local subsidiary Kulluk Services, has replaced most of the ship’s electronic and mechanical equipment and completed repair work to her hull.

All the work has been done in McKinley Bay, about 80 kilometres east of Tuktoyaktuk, logistics company BBE, which is supporting the overhaul, said.

According to Frontier’s website, the Kulluk is the only floating Arctic drilling unit of its kind in the world. the vessel has a 12-point mooring system and is rated for drilling in water depths of up to 400 feet in heavy ice conditions.

Shell has paid about $30 million for the work,CBC news reported.

The ship is expected to drill three wells under Shell’s renewed Beaufort drilling plan, the broadcaster said. At least one of the wells is expected to target depths greater than 4000 metres.

Shell has sought significant exploration assets in the Beaufort Sea in recent US federal lease auctions.

The Kulluk will be towed to Alaskan waters by a Russian icebreaker next month.

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