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US Coast Guard asks prosecutors to review Shell’s Arctic preparations

Mr Lawrence was the executive vice-president for exploration and commercial for Shell’s Upstream Americas division. His responsibilities are now being divided between three executives, including one with responsibility specifically for the Arctic. Its Arctic programme has already been beset by setbacks which forced it to put it on hold until at least 2014.

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By Emily Gosden: Friday 29 March 2013 Page B5

ROYAL Dutch Shell’s beleaguered Arctic campaign has suffered yet another setback after the US Coast Guard asked prosecutors to consider whether the company’s Kulluk drilling ship had breached marine pollution rules.

The Kulluk ran aground off Alaska in a storm on New Year’s Eve in the most high-profile mishap of Shell’s 2012 Arctic drilling programme.

Shell has already abandoned plans to drill for oil in the Arctic this summer after a series of problems last year.

The company has so far spent $5bn in the Arctic without being allowed to drill ‘ potentially oil-bearing rocks.

“Rear Admiral Thomas Ostebo, head of the Alaskan Coast Guard, said he had referred an investigation into possible marine pollution violations to the Department of Justice “for their review and potential follow-on action”.

The Coast Guard has already asked prosecutors to look at possible safety and environmental violations it discovered on board Shell’s other Arctic drilling rig, the Noble Discoverer.

The investigations follow a separate probe by the US Interior Department which examined the wider mishap-hit campaign and saw Interior Secretary Ken Salazar conclude that Shell had “screwed up”.

The report found Shell had begun the 2012 drilling season “without having finalised key components of its programme” and criticised “weaknesses in Shell’s management of contractors”.

It said Shell would not be able to resume drilling in 2014 until it had undergone a “full third-party management system audit” to ensure it was “appropriately tailored for Arctic conditions” and that it had “addressed the problems that it encountered during the 2012 drilling season”.

Earlier this month it emerged that Dave Lawrence, the senior executive in

charge of the Alaskan campaign, was to step down this summer “by mutual consent” after 29 years at the company.

Mr Lawrence was the executive vice-president for exploration and commercial for Shell’s Upstream Americas division. His responsibilities are now being divided between three executives, including one with responsibility specifically for the Arctic.

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Extract

SHELL is being investigated over suspected pollution law violations by its drilling rigs in Alaska.

Its Arctic programme has already been beset by setbacks which forced it to put it on hold until at least 2014.

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