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Drifting Shell Drilling Ship Prompts Environmentalist Criticism

By Kasia Klimasinska – Jul 15, 2012 10:42 PM GMT+0100

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) faced criticism from environmental activists after a drilling ship the company plans to use for exploration in the U.S. Arctic drifted toward shore.

The Noble Discoverer drifted toward the coast near Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Shell said today in an e-mail. The vessel was re-positioned away from shore and there is no evidence of damage or grounding, Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Francis said today by telephone from Kodiak, Alaska. While the reason for the mishap hasn’t been determined, Dutch Harbor experienced high winds yesterday, she said.

“Shell can’t keep its drill rig under control in a protected harbor, so what will happen when it faces 20 foot swells and sea ice while drilling in the Arctic?” Jackie Dragon, Greenpeace lead Arctic campaigner, said in an e-mail today. “Shell cannot be trusted,” and President Barack Obama “should not let its Arctic drilling program move forward.”

Shell is waiting for a final permit from the Interior Department to start exploration in the Arctic Beaufort and Chukchi seas after investing about $4.5 billion in the fields that may hold more than 20 billion barrels of oil.

Kelly op de Weegh, a spokeswoman for Shell, said the anchor used to secure the ship off the coast is different from the mooring system that will be used during drilling operations.

“Our goal remains flawless operations for offshore Alaska,” she said. “We will evaluate why this anchor didn’t hold.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Kasia Klimasinska in Washington at [email protected];

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at [email protected]


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