Alaska Oil Rig Reaches Safe Harbor After Week on Rocks

From Chicago Tribune

By Yereth Rosen

A Shell oil drilling rig that ran aground last week reached a safe harbor on Monday, where it will be examined to assess its seaworthiness after a week on the rocks near an Alaskan island.

Stormy weather had wrestled the Kulluk from towing ships a week ago, and tossed it to the shore of Sitkalidak Island. On Sunday night, it was refloated ahead of the 30-mile tow, before dropping anchor just past noon on Monday in Kiliuda Bay, which was previously designated a refuge for disabled vessels.

The fortunes of the saucer-shaped drillship, which worked in the Beaufort Sea late last year, face particular scrutiny because it was a major part of Royal Dutch Shell’s controversial and error-prone 2012 Arctic drilling program.

Shell said it had not yet been determined whether the Kulluk will be fixed in Kiliuda Bay or somewhere else, and whether it could continue on for planned winter maintenance near Seattle.

The salvage teams had earlier found no signs of breaches to its fuel tanks and only one area where seawater leaked onboard.

“At this stage, it’s too early to gauge any impact on our ongoing exploration plans, but with the Kulluk now safely recovered, we’ll carry out a detailed assessment of the vessel to understand what those impacts might be,” Marvin Odum, president of Shell’s U.S. arm, said in a statement.

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