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Shell Vessel Re-Anchors After Moving Toward Shore


KODIAK, Alaska July 15, 2012 (AP)

A Shell Oil drilling vessel slipped it anchorage Saturday and began moving toward shore in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands before it was re-anchored, the Coast Guard said.

The Nobel Discoverer got within 500 feet of an island near Dutch Harbor in Unalaska Bay, raising concerns of grounding.

But crews were apparently able to move the 571-foot vessel farther off shore and re-anchor it before that occurred, Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Sara Francis said.

“They (crew members) did not feel any bumps, or that it touched anything,” she said. “There were no reports of any injuries, pollution or damage to the vessel.”

Shell Oil plans to have divers examine the ship’s hull Sunday as a precaution, Francis said.

The Coast Guard, which is monitoring the situation, said that the ship is not reporting that it ran aground.

“While moored off the coast of Dutch Harbor, the Noble Discoverer drill ship drifted toward land and stopped very near the coast. One of Shell’s vessels, the Lauren Foss, then safely towed the Discoverer to its prior mooring position,” Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said in a statement.

Francis said a soft seabed that allowed the ship to drag its anchor and winds of up to 35 mph probably contributed to the problem.

The area of the island the vessel approached is uninhabited and not far from Dutch Harbor, about 600 miles southwest of Kodiak.

The Nobel Discoverer is one of two Shell ships that will drill exploratory oil wells in the Arctic waters of Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

Leading national conservation groups oppose the drilling because they fear oil spills in ice-choked ocean waters. But the Interior Department has given the go-ahead.




The incident reported today in which the Discoverer suffered some form of mooring system failure is by far the most serious incident relating to the Arctic drilling programme that you have published.

During drilling operations in water depths such as those expected by Shell, the vessel must remain in position within a watch circle of about 10m (7% of the water depth). If the vessel leaves the watch circle, the drillstring must be cut and the drilling riser disconnected at the seabed.

If a disconnect occurs at the same time as a drilling or well control incident is in progress, the potential for a catastrophe is very significant.

It appears that the vessel cannot even anchor successfully in sheltered waters and a low wind, so what hope is there that the vessel will remain on station during an Arctic storm far from the shelter of land? and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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