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Shell’s Arctic oil drill platform Polar Pioneer heaves into Dutch Harbor Alaska

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 19.31.15Shell’s Arctic oil drill platform Polar Pioneer heaves into Dutch Harbor Alaska

Information and magnificent copyrighted photograph’s kindly provided by Gary Braasch, Photographer & Journalist from World View of Global  Please see copyright notice at foot of article. Use your browser to enlarge images. 

Shell’s Arctic oil drill platform Polar Pioneer heaves into Dutch Harbor Alaska — its first port of call in the North for Shell’s plan to drill the Chukchi Sea this summer.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 11.22.13The 300 foot high floating oil rig that Royal Dutch Shell intends to install in the Arctic Ocean’s Chukchi Sea this summer arrived in Dutch Harbor, Unalaska Is, Alaska, early on June 27, 2015. Pulled by two ocean-going tugs, the huge machine appeared off Unalaska Island in the pre-dawn, 13 days after it left Seattle WA. In contrast to the active protests, “kayaktivist” flotillas and native American opposition in Puget Sound, there were no apparent protestors at the arrival in the Aleutian Islands. The Polar Pioneer now floats well off the Dutch Harbor airport in front of the steep mountains of Unalaska, the volcanoes like Mt Makushin that make up these islands. Strong winds formed lenticular clouds over the peaks in the dawn light.

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Other ships in Shell’s fleet are already gathering at Dutch Harbor to await the final permits which the company needs from the US Government to proceed. Ships in the harbor include the tug and service ship Aiviq; oil spill response vessel Fennica (with a blowout preventer hanging at its stern); oil service and spill response boats like the red Ross Chouest and the Nordica. Other ships have arrived at Homer in SW Alaska. Shell said it may have more than 25 vessels along with two drill rigs in the Chukchi — which is almost a thousand miles farther north from the Aleutians through the Bering Strait.

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Meanwhile in Washington DC, environmental groups represented by Earthjustice lodged a complaint with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell that Shell’s tentatively approved drilling plan violates “an explicit condition” of the 2013 governing regulations allowing companies to disturb walruses, seals and other animals in the region. The groups say the regs require drill rigs to be at least 15 miles apart, but that Shell’s planned locations are only 9 miles distant. Resolving this, which could hold up the issuance of a Federal permit to disturb marine mammals, is among the last items Shell needs to begin drilling.

More from Alaska soon here. Previous coverage of Shell’s Arctic drilling attempt and its opposition is here and here. Support for coverage in Alaska is provided by the Alaska Wilderness League.


Photography and text Copyright © 2005 – 2015 (and before) Gary Braasch All rights reserved. Use of photographs in any manner without permission is prohibited by US copyright law. Photography is available for license to publications and other uses. Please contact [email protected]. View more of Gary Braasch’s photography here.


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