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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Drill Rig Adrift Again (Update)

Shell Arctic Drill Ship

“The Unified Command reports that the Kulluk is now adrift. The Kulluk is estimated to be four miles from the nearest point of land.”

Last summer, Shell’s “Noble Discoverer” drill ship ran aground at Dutch Harbor—or, as a company press release phrased it, “drifted toward land and stopped very near the coast.” Clearly, it was a harbinger of things to come.

Another Shell drilling rig in the Gulf of Alaska is adrift again, amid worsening weather. A crew of around 250 is trying to get control of the situation as the drilling rig is now 4 miles from land, the ADN is reporting in a depressingly familiar story.

The Coast Guard’s press release indicates “MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews from Air Station Kodiak are preparing to deploy several technicians aboard the Kulluk…we have a brief weather window.”

Progressive Alaskas Phil Munger is covering this story over at Firedoglake, and provides a helpful link where you can track the vessels around the drill rig.

We’ll pass along new developments as they become known. In the meantime, here’s a pretty brutal parody of the dated Kulluk rig: It’s not just the oil—it’s the challenge!

If you’re in the Lower 48, here’s a reference point for Kodiak Island, 250 miles south of Anchorage.


Update: Coast Guard reports that the rig ran aground off Kodiak Island after towlines failed  for the 5th time. (via ADN)



15 Responses to “Drill Rig Adrift Again (Update)”
  1. mike from iowa says: Someone needs to explain what running aground means. I saw the pictures from last summer and that ship sure looked like it had run aground. Silly me here in iowa. I did not realize the purpose of maritime travel was to haul up on rocks. Damn liberal education.

  2. Shell is empty says:

    CIRI needs to step up and impose penalties for gross negligence…and request the feds pull permits…

    If they are Shell then they have the funds to pay the US Coast Guard for time and fuel and the aggravation…

  3. hedgewytch says:

    It’s like a parody. It would be funny except its not. Again and again and again, we hear that “they” can do the job, they can do it safely, they can do it without mistakes, they can do it better than anyone else! If this is what they call “better” then maybe they should just shelve the whole program until they can get a qualified priest in to remove the curse that they are under, after all, there’s got to be some explanation for all these “unfortunate occurrences”.

  4. John says:

    From Shell’s press release on this rig: “On the slight chance that something does go wrong, Shell’s spill cleanup plan is second to none. No one has yet fully determined how to clean up an oil spill in pack ice or broken ice—but that too is exactly the sort of challenge we love.”

    Their plan is second to none because no one else has a plan either.

    • Tom says:

      Dear John, pertaining to your comment of Jan 1, 2013: the website where you’ve found the gung-ho “Shell press relase” is a spoof site, actually. But hey, you may still prefer to believe that major oil companies with a name and reputation to protect are evil, or cowboys, or both. Then don’t let me mess with your view of the world. I hear that these companies are secretly run by Orcs 😉 P.S. I too am not so sure that producing in the Arctic is a good idea.

  5. All I Saw says:

    The owner of the Aiviq, Chouest – also happens to be Don Young’s biggest fan (and donor). Corruption isn’t just a hobby in Alaska, it’s a business model.

  6. Zyxomma says:

    La plus ca change …

  7. John says:

    Apparently no longer adrift. As Joe Hazelwood said, “we’ve fetched up hard aground.” Or something like that.

  8. Mo says:

    “The storm has included winds near 70 miles per hour and swells to 35 feet.”

    If I recollect my seamanship correctly, swells are measured vertically – so that means if you’re in the trough of the wave and looking back at it, it’s 50 feet along the slope. That’s 6 stories and change.

  9. John says:

    Who pays for all the coast guard efforts.

    • BearWoman says:

      We the taxpayers. Unfortunately, the cost of the Coast Guard, US Fish & Wildlife Service, AK Dep’t Environmental Conservation (ha!), AK Dep’t of Fish and Game personnel, costs for fuel, feeding employees, overtime, etc. are not repaid by the offending company. For government it is a cost of doing business which the offending business does not want to pay for or, as Republicans loudly asses to many individuals, take personal responsibility for. Oh yeah, look for Shell’s gas prices to go up and taxes to go down as any “clean-up” costs they incur can be deducted as a “business expense.”

  10. merrycricket says:

    I think the penalty for incidents like this needs to be a suspension of all drilling rights. That probably wouldn’t teach them a damn thing but we would get a time out.

  11. Moose Pucky says:

    Unified Command Release No. 12:

    “Anchorage, Alaska – The Unified Command reports that Kulluk grounded at approximately 9 p.m., Alaska time on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island. The crew of the tug Alert was ordered to separate from the Kulluk at 8:15 p.m. to maintain the safety of the nine crewmembers aboard the vessel.

    “The extreme weather conditions and high seas continue to be a challenge. We have more than 250 people actively involved in the response efforts,” said Susan Childs, Incident Commander, Shell. “Our priority right now is maintaining the safety of our response personnel and evaluating next steps.”

    There were no personnel aboard the Kulluk at the time of grounding, and no injuries have been reported.

    There is reportedly up to 150,000 gallons of ultra-low sulpher diesel on board the Kulluk and roughly 12,000 gallons of combined lube oil and hydraulic fluid. The condition of the vessel has not yet been confirmed and overflights are scheduled pending weather conditions. Unified Command, using a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft, plans to conduct a survey to assess the situation at first light. A response team will be deployed when it is safe to do so.”

  12. Moose Pucky says:

    Report Kulluk grounded.

    Notable words from Shell: “At this time the weather condition does not allow us to move response equipment.”

    Imagine these words in an Arctic emergency.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] en route if a somewhat tipsy crow were flying from the Mudflats office in Anchorage to the site of this week’s Shell oil rig crash landing (see map below). By Alaskan standards, it’s not far […]

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