You're really giving us some confidence here.
When you can't even keep your Chukchi-Sea-bound drilling rig from going out of control and drifting dangerously near shore, how are we supposed to think you'll ever have control of such rigs in icy, stormy, Arctic waters?
On Saturday evening, the Shell Oil Co. drilling ship, Noble Discoverer, slipped anchor while anchored at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and drifted to what appears to be within yards of the shore, as seen in photos posted on the Anchorage Daily News website.
Tugboats apparently got to the ship before it grounded, and Shell says no damage was done to the drilling rig.
"A vessel slipping anchor at an anchorage, while not a common event, is not rare, either," said Coast Guard Cmdr. Chris O'Neil, the Washington, D.C.-based head spokesman.While Shell and the Coast Guard do not believe that the ship hit ground, the fishing-boat captain who took photos of the incident told the Los Angeles Times that he believe the rig did, indeed, ground itself:
“The stern was on ground, there’s no question about that. I think everybody that was down there knew that,” Kristjan Laxfoss said in a telephone interview.The Times notes that Shell is having regulatory issues and problems with equipment prior to this summer's scheduled drilling in Arctic waters:
The company has been dealing with an array of last-minute problems as it prepares for its first offshore drilling in the Arctic in two decades. The company last week had to apply for a change in its air permit for the drill bit generator on the Discoverer when the generator failed to meet tough EPA requirements for nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions.The Anchorage newspaper included a statement from Greenpeace regarding the incident:
And Shell is still trying to win U.S. Coast Guard certification for its oil-spill response vessel, the Arctic Challenger, which is still moored in Bellingham, Wash., finishing lengthy renovations.
Sources familiar with the overhaul of that vessel said engineers are redesigning the strut supports for the flare boom assembly — with which natural gas extracted from an oil spill would be flared off — and attempting to finish installing high-pressure hose onto the vessel’s storage reels. Sea trials are now set for July 23.
"Shell can't keep its drill rig under control in a protected harbor, so what will happen when it faces 20 foot swells and sea ice while drilling in the Arctic?" Jackie Dragon, who is taking the lead on the Greenpeace Arctic campaign, said in a written statement.Still fighting Arctic drilling, a coalition of nine environmental groups filed suit in Anchorage on July 10 regarding the federal government's approval of Shell's oil spill response plan.
According to the lawsuit, as reported by the Cordova (AK) Times:
(the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement) “rubber-stamped plans that rely on unbelievable assumptions, include equipment that has never been tested in Arctic conditions, and ignore the very real possibility that a spill could continue through the winter,” the plaintiffs said.So, Shell?
“The agency has not met minimum legal standards to be sure that Shell’s plans could be effective and that Shell has sufficient boats, resources, and spill responders to remove a worst-case oil spill in the Arctic Ocean to the maximum extent practicable.”
You may eventually be stopped from drilling.
But if this summer's plans do eventually go through, how about keeping your drilling rig under control?
We'd all feel a lot better if you did.