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BP turns down Shell cleanup vessel for Gulf of Mexico spill

by Ted Land
Friday, June 25, 2010

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Some people are disappointed that BP is passing up an important tool in its response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Shell Oil’s sophisticated cleanup vessel, the Nanuq, could be on its way to the gulf — but instead it’s docked in Seward, waiting for its next assignment.

Shell built the ship in 2007, and says it’s one of the most advanced skimming vessels of its kind in the world.

“She’s definitely the largest that we know of,” said Shell Alaska’s Susan Moore. “She’s got 12,000 barrels of storage, which is above and beyond what most other oil spill response vessels around the world have.”

With Shell’s offshore drilling plans this year put on hold by the Obama administration, the Nanuq won’t be needed in Alaska this year. But all it takes is a look at news headlines to find oil cleanup work.

“I saw the pictures of the wildlife in the gulf. This is terrible, and the company’s going to put its full might behind providing every resource it can to stop it, clean it up and restore the gulf,” said BP managing director Bob Dudley.

BP expressed interest in using the Nanuq to help clean up the Deepwater Horizon spill, and Shell says it was in the final stages of a deal which would have sent the ship south. But for some reason BP recently backed out, and Shell says it can confirm that BP no longer plans to use the ship.

“I can’t tell you why BP decided to pass on the Nanuq,” said Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith. “Of course it’s our preference that it be working in the gulf, but it will remain available should BP reconsider.”

“Me, personally, I lived in New Orleans for 15 years — I know what the people are going through, and I absolutely would like to have the opportunity to see an asset this valuable deployed down there,” Moore said.

For a company that says it needs every available resource, this is one tool BP apparently does not want.

If BP or the Coast Guard decide to use the ship, it will take 25 to 30 days to make it down to the gulf since it needs to go through the Panama Canal.

BP and the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command did not return repeated phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Contact Ted Land at [email protected]


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