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Greenpeace, Shell show off Arctic assets in Seattle

Alaska Dispatch | Jun 11, 2012

Popular Mechanics reports on touring the Kulluk, an oil rig being refurbished by Royal Dutch Shell to drill off the Alaska Coast this July.

The Kulluk, currently residing in Vigor Shipyards in Seattle, is being refurbished by Royal Dutch Shell after six years of inactivity. The modifications of the Kulluk are nearly complete, and the rig is set to be towed north this month, up through the Bering Strait and east of Point Barrow, with operations to begin in late July.

Popular Mechanics tagged along on a tour that was set up for Sen. Begich, who stopped in Seattle on his way back to Alaska for Memorial Day. They report that “the rig was freshly painted in blue and white; engineers onboard said that virtually every pump, gasket, hose, pipe, and motor had been replaced.”

Mark Duplantis, Shell’s well delivery manager in Alaska, explained that the safety features onboard the rig are superior to those of the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon. When asked about the blowout preventers (BOPs) onboard — the mechanism that failed in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 — Duplantis replied that “having two BOPs is a requirement here; the backup BOP would be used if the rig had to go into relief drilling mode.”

Read more, at Popular Mechanics.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace — which has already earned an injunction from Shell related to Arctic protest activity — is showing off its own Arctic technology, with a Russian ice-ready ship called the Esperanza and several submersibles that Greenpeace said will be used to observe Shell en route to the Arctic.

Seattle Radio station KPLU recently took a tour of the Esperanza and posted a video featuring the submersibles.

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