Noble Discoverer Cited for Safety Violations

Last night, Rachel Maddow reported on the Coast Guard investigation of the Noble Discoverer, one of the drill ships being used by Shell for offshore drilling in the Arctic.  The Discoverer, built in 1966 and refurbished a couple times, last in 2009, was cited for 16 violations of safety and operational standards.  Read the rest of this entry

After all of the mishaps during Shell’s short Arctic drilling season this year, which included a failed and damaged containment dome, sea ice delays, the drillship Discoverer losing its moorings and almost running aground, and last week’s near disaster as the drillship Kulluk ran slipped its towline in heavy weather and ran aground off of Kodiak Island, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has order an expedited assessment of the program.  I have expressed my concerns about the risks of Arctic offshore drilling on this blog before, and these challenges have underscored those risks, and they haven’t even drilled to the productive interval yet.  All new programs have problems getting off the ground; the problem here is that the conditions are so harsh that the margin for error is virtually non-existent.  The OGJ article about Salazar’s order is below:

Salazar orders review of 2012 Arctic oil, gas drilling – Oil & Gas Journal.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement approved Shell to begin operations in he Beaufort Sea.  Operations include drilling mudline cellars, as well as shallow strings of pipe.  Drilling to hydroarbon bearing zones will wait until next year.   BSEE Authorizes Shell Preparatory Activities in Beaufort Sea | BSEE.

The company also announced that it was moving the Noble Discoverer back onto the Burger A well in the Chukchi Sea.

Shell Arctic Safety System’s Problems Plague Alaska Drilling Plans.

The media is reporting that Shell announced this morning that they are abandoning drilling in the Arctic until this year.  I’m not reading their statement that way.  Shell is not abandoning its drilling program; their approved “tophole” operations are continuing as cleared by the Department of Interior.  Read the rest of this entry

Of Ice, Whales, and Lack of Leadership.

Exactly one week ago, Shell triumphantly announced the resumption of drilling in the offshore Arctic after a 20 year hiatus.  The drillship Noble Discoverer spud (began drilling) the first new Burger prospect well in the Chukchi Sea; less than 24 hours later, they had to shut down and move 30 miles away to allow for a huge ice floe to move through the area.  They’ve been there ever since, monitoring ice. Read the rest of this entry

Huge ice floe continues to shut down drilling on Shell’s Burger prospect.

Ice still delaying Shell Arctic offshore drilling – CBS News.

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