Shell’s flagship Arctic drilling ship runs aground in Alaskan waters

• January 2, 2013
Kulluk Drilling Rig

Creative Commons: US Coast Guard, 2013

A large drill ship belonging to the oil company Shell has run aground off Alaska after drifting in stormy weather, company and government officials said.

The ship, the Kulluk, broke away from one of its tow lines on Monday afternoon and was driven, within hours, on to rocks just off Kodiak Island, where it grounded at about 9pm Alaska time, officials said. The 18-member crew had been evacuated by the coastguard late on Saturday because of risks from the ongoing storm. There was no known spill and no reports of damage, but the Kulluk had about 155,000 gallons of fuel on board, said coastguard commander Shane Montoya, the leader of the incident command team.

With winds reported as reaching 60 miles an hour and Gulf of Alaska seas of up to 12 metres, responders were unable to keep the ship from grounding, he told a news conference late on Monday night in Anchorage. “We are now entering into the salvage and possible spill-response phase of this event.”

The grounding of the Kulluk, a conical, Arctic-class drill ship weighing nearly 28,000 gross tonnes, is a blow to Shell’s $4.5bn (£2.8bn) offshore programme in Alaska.

Read more: The Guardian >>

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