Units of Shell's oil drilling fleet leave Dutch Harbor for the Arctic Ocean.
The Aiviq anchor-handler has begun the long sea journey, bearing some of the massive anchors that will be set to hold the drilling rig Noble Discoverer in place as it drills a well in the Chukchi Sea, Shell informs the 'Alaska Dispatch'.
The ice-breaker Fennica , which will deploy a sound-recorder to establish an acoustic footprint of the anchors being set, also left Dutch Harbor. It will provide baseline data on noise levels that could prove useful as the company tries to minimize disturbance to bowhead and beluga whales and share information with the village subsistence hunters who depend on those animals, said Shell spokesman Curtis Smith.
The departures represent what could be a landmark moment in Shell's years-long quest to return to the little-explored Arctic. From Alaska to Washington, D.C., the company's pioneering and economically risky venture to seek oil in the ice-choked region has received assistance from key lawmakers, unprecedented scrutiny from regulators and a barrage of legal and media attacks from environmental groups and some Alaska Natives who fear an Arctic spill will be impossible to clean up.