An icebreaker which will support Shell’s drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea offshore Alaska, will be repaired in Portland, after suffering a damage to the hull while navigating through the Unalaska Bay.
MSV Fennica, which is still in Unalaska according to AIS data, will transit to Portland for repairs before returning to Alaskan waters for its operational duties.
While there have been reports that the damage to the vessel – a one meter long gash in the hull – could delay or even prevent Shell’s Arctic drilling plans from materializing, the vessel’s owner, Arctia Offshore from Finland, says that “the vessel is required in the operational area only late in the August so the drydocking in Portland has been chosen for repairs.”
The 1993-built Fennica, apart from its icebreaking duties, is carrying what has been described as a key piece of Arctic oil exploration containment equipment, the capping stack.
The capping stack is used to contain the flow of oil in the event that all primary and backup blowout prevention equipment fails during drilling. It is obligatory for it to be in position for all of Shell’s potential drilling activities in the Arctic.
Shell is yet to receive final approval to drill in the area. In a statement issued last month, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), said that if the drilling permits were approved, Shell would be required to maintain the capping stack in a ready-to-deploy state on the MV Fennica, which would be available to respond to a loss of well control within 24 hours.
The Anglo/Dutch oil giant is expected to spend around $1 billion on its drilling campaign offshore Alaska this summer. The company plans to use two drilling rigs for the operation, the Polar Pioneer and the Noble Discoverer.
The Polar Pioneer semi-submersible rig is already in Alaska, after arriving from Seattle, where massive protests were organized by environmental groups, objecting Shell’s Arctic drilling plans. As for the Noble Discoverer, the vessel has also reached Unalaska after departing from Washington on June 30, 2015.
Offshore Energy Today Staff