shell arctic containment dome

The Arctic Challenger’s containment dome was damaged during a field test in Puget Sound, Washington. Image credit BSEE (via KUOW FOIA request)

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA, RDSA.LN) has repaired a piece of safety equipment intended for its Arctic drilling program and will soon ask U.S. regulators to approve its use, the company said Thursday.

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement flagged the oil containment dome Shell had proposed using in September because of damage the piece of equipment had sustained during testing. Shell will bring the dome to BSEE for reinspection later this month, company spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh said.

“We fully expect that to be ready for ongoing exploration program,” Ms. op de Weegh said. Shell plans to restart its Arctic drilling activities in mid-July if the region’s ice and wind conditions subside enough.

Shell, which plans to invest nearly $5 billion in oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, starting drilling exploratory wells in the region last year. A string of mishaps in the region–including its Kulluk rig recently running aground an island in the Bay of Alaska–has increased criticism of Shell’s Arctic drilling program.

- Ben Lefebvre, (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company

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