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Shell’s disastrous foray into Arctic waters

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.18.55From an article by Joel Connelly published 7 Jan 2015 by under the headline:

“Will Port of Seattle be repair center for Shell Oil’s Arctic vessels?


The Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 is being proposed as a repair and service center for vessels engaged in Shell Oil’s troubled, delayed program to drill for oil in Arctic waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska.

In the summer of 2012, the tug Lauren Foss towed the Shell exploration ship Noble Discoverer away from a beach in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, after its anchor slipped and the 512-foot vessel nearly ran aground.

The contractor operating the Noble Discoverer, Noble Drilling LLC, later pleaded guilty to eight felony counts for violating environmental and safety laws, and paid a $12.2 million fine. The violations were discovered during a U.S. Coast Guard safety inspection.

Shell had a disastrous experience in 2012 and undertook no drilling activity in the summers of 2013 and 2014.

The oil giant spent more than $2 billion to buy offshore leases in the Chukchi Sea and has invested billions in preparing drilling equipment.

In 2012, however, nothing went right. Advancing ice floes forced a halt to drilling. Shell tried to have its big circular drilling ship, the Kulluk, towed back down to the “lower 48″ in the midst of violent December storms in the Gulf of Alaska. The towing operation was in part designed to avoid paying Alaska taxes.

The Kulluk slipped its tow lines, ran aground on New Year’s Eve at Sitkalidak Island near Kodiak Island. It was severely damaged, taken to China and eventually dismantled. “The Wreck of the Kulluk” was the cover story in last Sunday’s New York Times magazine.



Shell’s Simon Henry says its not difficult to drill in the Arctic Seas and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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