Kulluk Grounding Revives the Debate: Is Shell Ready For Arctic Exploration? - from gcaptain.
Coast Guard finds safety issues with Alaskan Arctic drilling rig
The Nobel Discovery was towed to the Chukchi Sea. Vibration in the shaft.
If Crowley or Western Towboat had lost a tow in the Gulf I can see the "shit happens" explanation. Sometimes gear does fail, sometime you do get crap in your tanks.
Is the case of Shell, it appears a good argument can be made that they just do not have what it takes to operate in the Arctic.
Last edited by Kennebec Captain; January 5th, 2013 at 05:59 AM.
I would disagree. They obviously knew who to payoff, I mean "educate" to get the permits going and were able to plead their case after the grounding that the damage incurred would not affect the Discovery. The way their press conferences have been all roses and bird singing and the USCG using all the correct buzz words and "Centers of Excellence" how could they not be ready?
They are just like Lindsay Lohan, nothing is their fault, although I don't think Charlie Sheen will be offering to pay their back taxes.
Fraqrat (January 5th, 2013)
Possible Criminal investigation of Nobel Discover crew?
Article and CBS News Video here
CBS News has learned that the U.S. Coast Guard has called in their criminal investigators to probe potential violations of federal law involving the activities of a 572-foot oil drilling and exploration ship owned by the Noble corporation, and contracted by Royal Dutch Shell to search for oil in the arctic.Sources told CBS News that when criminal investigators arrived, the Noble Discoverer's crew had been provided with lawyers and declined to be interviewed.
"Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said one of the issues involves possible damage to a propeller or shaft in transit from the Chukchi Sea to Dutch Harbor, in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, at the conclusion of this year’s drilling operations, though that damage wasn’t noticed during an inspection at Dutch Harbor."
Call me cynical and skeptical but given the amount of smoke surrounding the "almost grounding" in Dutch, shouldn't that "Chukchi Sea to Dutch Harbor" be the other way around?
This whole Shell thing is beginning to smell really bad and the CG isn't exactly wearing Chanel No. 5 either. It reads like the CG finally figured out which side of the fan they really want to be on when the shit hits.
Oh MY! Is this really happening? Well as they say, "what goes around, comes around"
Coast Guard pursuing investigation into Alaskan drilling ship
(CBS News) CBS News has learned that the U.S. Coast Guard has called in their criminal investigators to probe potential violations of federal law involving the activities of a 572-foot oil drilling and exploration ship owned by the Noble corporation, and contracted by Royal Dutch Shell to search for oil in the arctic. Royal Dutch Shell owned the drilling rig, the Kulluk, that ran aground in rough Alaskan seas Monday.
The revelation that another Noble ship working for Shell may have been operating with serious safety and pollution control problems bolstered allegations from environmental activists that the oil industry is unable to conduct safe oil drilling operations in the Arctic Ocean.
The Coast Guard conducted a routine marine safety inspection when Noble's Discoverer arrived at a Seward, Alaska port in late November. The inspection team found serious issues with the ship's safety management system and pollution control systems. The inspectors also listed more than a dozen "discrepancies" which, sources tell CBS News, led them to call in the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) to determine if there were violations of federal law.
Sources told CBS News that when criminal investigators arrived, the Noble Discoverer's crew had been provided with lawyers and declined to be interviewed.
After the Coast Guard's initial inspection of the Noble Discoverer, on Nov. 30, Capt. Paul Mehler, the Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection in Western Alaska issued a Port State Control Detention for the Noble Discoverer, effectively grounding the ship until safety violations were fixed. By Dec. 19, the ship was released from Port Detention but still remains in Seward for additional repairs.
According to the Coast Guard, the recent issues come after a string of warning signs pointing to potential issues on the Discoverer and the Kulluk over the course of 2012. An "enforcement warning" for being a "pollution source" was issued to the Noble Discoverer in Anchorage, on Sept. 24, following an investigation into an oil discharge. On May 21, in Seattle, days before the ship sailed toward the Arctic Ocean, an inspection of the Discoverer found 23 deficiencies, including problems with bilge water management system, ventilation, electric system, and ship's engine.
The Kulluk has also had recent violations including three enforcement warnings for being a source of pollution in 2012 and a Coast Guard inspection last May that found 19 deficiencies in electrical and maintenance systems. Officials say there is no sign that the grounded Kulluk, which is carrying 143,000 gallons of diesel, is leaking fuel.;
Activists from Earthjustice, a nonprofit law firm that represents organizations in current litigation regarding Shell's Arctic drilling activities, claim the safety record of the entire fleet deployed for Shell in the Arctic raises questions about whether the ships and rigs are capable of handling conditions in the rough Arctic Ocean.
"No matter how many times we hear Big Oil tell us that everything is under control, the fact is the oil industry cannot operate safely and responsibly in the Arctic Ocean, and the risks of more reckless oil drilling are too great for us and future generations," Earthjustice president Trip Van Noppen said in a statement.
In an interview with CBS News on Friday, Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee said "We have to ask the question whether Shell Oil is playing a shell game with the safety protections that have to be in place to insure that drilling in the Arctic can be done without any damage to the environment."
In response to the Coast Guard investigation involving the Noble Discoverer, Shell spokesperson Kelly op de Weegh said in a statement "Noble, owners of the Discoverer, are swiftly addressing the discrepancies identified in the Coast Guard inspection of that vessel. Noble has addressed and closed many of the items noted in the inspection, and others are planned for the Discoverer's post-season maintenance schedule. Shell will not deploy the Noble Discoverer for exploration operations until all post-season issues have been corrected."
In a statement to CBS News, Noble spokesperson John Breed said "Noble continues to cooperate fully with Coast Guard to address any deficiencies they may have identified in their inspections of the ship. Noble will continue to cooperate with the Coast Guard so that the ship can safely travel to the shipyard in Washington State to conduct any further repairs."
On Thursday, a coalition of 46 Democratic members of Congress called on Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to join with the Coast Guard in investigating the whether the fleet contracted by Shell should operate in the Arctic Ocean.
Sources tell CBS News that Coast Guard Investigations Service agents and EPA investigators have been meeting with federal prosecutors in Anchorage. Electronic information downloaded from the Noble Discovery's on-board computers is being reviewed by Coast Guard experts in Washington.
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler did not return a call seeking comment. A Coast Guard spokesman when asked whether the criminal probe might result in charges would only say, "the Coast Guard continues to review evidence and the investigation is ongoing".
I imagine Xena is smiling quietly to herself right now. I wonder where that exciting and enchanting woman is at these days? I wonder if she knows how much a certain American mariner lusts for her?
My gut says when the "incident" happened in Dutch Harbor, the USCG was under pressure form the Alaska delegation in DC and Juneau not to make waves so to speak and that HQ told them to give Shell the benefit of the doubt and a chance to make good on their investment in drilling in the Arctic. The USCG is similar to the FAA, it is not in their charter but they are under pressure from above not to hidner business while enforcing laws and treaties. I am also sure it was approved at the highest levels in the previous administration and this administration to let this adventure go through to its hopeful conclusion of striking oil and everybody happy it worked. At times in DC there is an attitude that big business does things in a business-like and safe manner. The government was gambling on this being a success and making a lot of (tax) money and providing jobs.
Now that it has blown up in their faces like Wile E. Coyote and some of those fine products from ACME, their only choice is to circle the wagons, save face since this administration is "green", tighten ranks and leave Shell and the others out to dry in the cruel Arctic wind. The Kulluk and the DISCO with their 30 year old technology were never supposed to last more than one , maybe two drilling seasons. A couple of billion gambled on the chance of TRILLIONS in 10 to 20 years is a bargain if you have a few billion lying around. It was a gamble that would have paid off HUGE for everyone involved including the government.
When it was originally approved back in 2007ish, there was a carefully hidden clause in the 2009 USCG Appropriations Bill that in layman's terms stated that no foreign vessels waivers for work in US Arctic/Alaska water past 2014 or 2015. Amazingly they were buttressing the Jones Act so investors, which is who the law was written for not merchant seamen as is the popular thought,would not lose their investment when things started booming and the foreigners came in and scooped up all the good work. Now why they won't do that in the GOM is beyond me. Imagine how many jobs would be created if they threw all those Vanu'Atu and European drill ships, semis and boats out of the GOM and had to replace them all with domestic build?
Anyway, that was their plan in Alaska and Royal Dutch Shell was going to bankroll this for everybody, contractors included, by gambling that two old foreign ships would strike gold, or oil in this case before the waivers ran out. Why do you think Harvey Gulf, Chouest and other were gearing up for this? It was not out of the kindness of their own hearts, I assure you, they were gearing up for Alaska. Of course the government can save these investors by opening the East GOM and the East Coast. They were going to have to build anyway because OSV's available for deep and ultra deep stuff are not economically viable. Alaska was just part of the big picture. I guarantee you that HOS' and SEACOR's big building programs had some boats that were going to be ice capable. Now the KULLUK has happened, they will scale it back to vessels capable for deep and ultra-deep, unless the East Coast opens.
Of course now we will see accusations, counter-accusations, obfuscations and half truths and nothing will be done to avoid this happening in the future while everyone changes their plans to make money.
That is why they wanted to get the Kulluk and the DISCO up there so desperately; drill wells before the waivers ran out and they would have to pay BIG money to build rigs in US yards because they would be inside 12 miles and not out in the EEZ. That was Shell's trade off to the government for getting permission for the leases. You see how much building is being done for Brazil? Projections for the offshore North Slope reserves are bigger than Brazil and they are building 40 DP Semis and Drill ships for that! Can you imagine the job creation in US shipyards and shipping for more than 40 ice capable drilling rigs and osv's? That is a little on the high side but that is why the stakes were so high and that was what Shell was selling to the government, and they lapped it up without looking to closely at how it was going to be accomplished. Kind of counting their chickens before they hatched as mother would say.
What's that mother? Get off the computer and get back to work? But Maaaaaaa! I am talking to my friends! You don't care? OK... I have to go.
I have had my say. Get out the pointy sticks and skewer me. THE BATTERY IS RELEASED!
Excuse me, "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!"
Last edited by BMCSRetired; January 5th, 2013 at 11:54 AM.
I wonder if she knows how much a certain American mariner lusts for her?
There are those who can and there are those who will, which one will you be today?
BMCS, thank you for an excellent and insightful post...
I think it is important for me to state here that there is not one American citizen mariner who is more pro Arctic energy than myself. I went to Frontier and the BULLY I because I was told that it was being built to work in the Arctic and wanted to be there when it did. When it became clear that Shell was not going to proceed on that path with the ship I asked Noble to put me on the DISCO after hearing rumblings that they were looking for a new master for the rig. They sent me to NZ but obviously that went south on me and I quit the company rather than to eat the shit sandwich I was handed. Since then I have considered both Shell and Noble fair game but prior to that I too said no ill of them in the same hope that success in the Arctic would benefit all of us immensely. Since Port Taranaki, this entire imbroglio has been a farce of the most unbelievably immense proportions that I am left with absolutely ZERO confidence with all the players with now includes ECO because they lost the tow of the KULLUK in conditions which could easily have been avoided by any master who knew the waters which I consider myself one from having worked in Alaska since 1982 including having towed rigs up there (I was 2nd mate on the tow of the jackup ROWAN MIDDLETON from Norton Sound to Cook inlet in 1984). I have a towing endorsement on my UL license so am one one of not very many out there who gets to speak with some credibility because of that. Sorry to those who don't think so.
Everything that has occurred now in the prior 11 months since NZ has been an unmitigated public relations, political and now operating disaster for Shell and they (particularly Peter Slaiby) are responsible for every little tiny bit of it. I hoped for Shell to have hired the most knowledgeable Alaska experienced professionals available to run that program but have been forced to endure the never ending "clown circus" instead. Will this latest be the turning point? I believe it will have to be but the cost now is at least two years delay before any drilling commences again which is a huge loss for all of us. The Arctic has the potential to have the most massive reserves of energy left on the planet and I know that we will be back but now I would much rather see a Statoil be the one big player up there. Unless Shell takes this opportunity to completely clean house and startover again with a new team and new attitude, then they have no business whatsoever being in Alaska. They've lost everybody including the USCG now and rightfully so. It's about time!
Last edited by c.captain; January 5th, 2013 at 01:47 PM.
btw, that exclusion for foreign vessels working in Alaska did not include the rigs themselves...just the support vessels like TOR VIKING, BOTNICA, etc... although I simply do not know what Shell's longterm plan was to replace the DISCO and KULLUK up there. I had thought it was to be the two BULLY drillships but know that to make them ready to work in Alaska was going to require a massive rework of both ships that was going to involve a year or more in a shipyard somewhere. I never understood why there was no provisions made for a revolving mooring turret like on the DISCO?