When last we checked in on Royal Dutch Shell’s “High Tech” Arctic drilling operation they were pretty hosed, eh? Their containment unit was crushed like a beer can at half its designed operating depth on a clear sunny day in Puget Sound Washington.
Well the weather is not always so nice as that farther north and later in the season and the drilling rig Shell has been using, the Kulluk, and Aiviq the tug moving it to it’s winter quarters in Seattle from Dutch Harbor (famous from Deadliest Catch), ran into some.
Now what some people would call a ‘big storm’ is not so much by comparison to your typical gale, ask anyone who has lived in Maine or Syracuse (6″? A dusting. You don’t even get a snow day.). This one was big enough though, 40′ seas and 70 mph winds. Kulluk broke her tow and started drifting. Then when they finally got a line on her again the engines on Aiviq went out, all of them. Bad diesel they say.
So they called in the Coast Guard which was luckily enough based quite nearby on Kodiak Island instead of a thousand miles away like they would be during actual drilling and they were able to restart Aiviq and with the help of a couple of Cutters start towing again.
Monday, New Year’s Eve, they gave up on that and intentionally grounded Kulluk on the environmentally sensitive but uninhabited Sitkalidak Island near Kodiak Island with the intention of re-floating it and trying again when the weather moderated.
And it did, to a more typical 30′ swell and 35 mph breeze which the Coast Guard divers looked at and decided was maybe not as moderate as they needed to survive.
There it sits today, Wednesday, rocking gently back and forth on a sandy beach with no sign of leaking its 143,000 gallons of fuel or 12,000 gallons of lubricants and hydraulic fluid OR getting pounded to razor blades on the rocks depending on whether you believe Shell propoganda or not.
As always EdwardTeller @ Firedog Lake is on top of the story with these posts I highly recommend you read-
- Shell Oil’s Arctic Drilling Rig’s Tug in Gulf of Alaska Emergency – Shell Considering Evacuating Kulluk Crew Saturday December 29, 2012 2:04 pm
- Shell Drill Rig Kulluk Breaks Tow Lines – Adrift Again Sunday Night – Updated X 3 Sunday December 30, 2012 10:18 pm
- Kulluk Grounds – Spill Response "Ready to Go!" Monday December 31, 2012 9:37 pm
- Shell Oil Rig Kulluk Being Ground into Razor Blades on Rocky Alaska Beach. Questions Arise. Tuesday January 1, 2013 4:17 pm
But if you prefer corporate media instead of DFH Firebagger bloggers here’s a sample-
- Rig Runs Aground in Alaska, Reviving Fears About Arctic Drilling
By JOHN M. BRODER and HENRY FOUNTAIN, The New York Times
Published: January 1, 2013
- Shell oil rig runs aground in Alaska
By Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post
Jan 01, 2013 08:46 PM EST
- A Rig Accident off Alaska Shows the Dangers of Extreme Energy
By Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine
Jan. 02, 2013
- Shell drilling rig remains difficult to reach for rescue team
Richard Mauer and Lisa Demer, McClatchy
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
- Storm impedes salvage of drilling ship in Alaska
Mary Pemberton, Associated Press
7:17 a.m. EST January 2, 2013
- What Shell’s Kulluk Oil Rig Accident Means for Arctic Drilling
By Jerry Beilinson, Popular Mechanics
January 1, 2013 7:50 PM