Shell Prepares to Go Back to Arctic

Oil giant Shell, in its 3Q 2013 announcement, revealed plans to continue its exploration program in the Chukchi sea, offshore Alaska.
The company said it expects to submit an updated Exploration Plan in the coming weeks, which is required for Shell to keep options open to proceed in the coming year.
“We are putting the building blocks in place for an upcoming exploration season, but we have not yet made a final decision,” said the company in a statement, adding that if the drilling does occur in 2014, it will be in the Chukchi Sea only.
“This is a multi-year exploration program, and each step we take will be contingent on meeting all the conditions necessary to proceed safely and responsibly. Our decision to resume exploration will be driven by our readiness to do so safely, not by the need to meet arbitrary timelines. Alaska oil and gas represents a potentially enormous and vital U.S. resource that could underpin the American economy for decades to come, ” Shell said.
Arctic Handbrake
The oil firm earlier this year suspended its Arctic drilling for 2013 after experiencing several hiccups. To remind, in December, 2012, the Kulluk drilling unit went aground off Alaska after breaking free from tugboats leading it to Seattle for maintenance, and the Noble Discoverer drillship nearly grounded in Dutch Harbor. Also, in a separate statement, the U.S. Coast Guard reported it had discovered sixteen safety violations on the Noble Discoverer. One of the violations handed out by the Coast Guard against the Discoverer stated that “current propulsion arrangement does not result in sufficient speed at sea to safely maneuver in all expected conditions without tow assistance.”
Following these events, Shell put a halt to its drilling operations in Alaska and towed both drilling units to an Asian shipyard for repairs.
In response to Shell’s decision to pull a handbrake to Arctic exploration  Earthjustice President, Trip Van Noppen, said:

Shell did the only thing it could do—suspend Arctic drilling and halt operations for oil exploration this summer. Whether it was the Kulluk’s grounding, the problems both drilling operations had with Arctic weather and ice, or the total failure of their oil spill containment system, Shell’s drilling effort last summer demonstrated with vivid clarity that the oil industry is not ready to drill safely in the Arctic Ocean.

Offshore Energy Today Staff, November 04, 2013

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