In the last week, both of Shell’s drill ships departed Unalaska for the Arctic.
The Noble Discoverer drill rig, which made headlines when it dragged anchor and almost came aground on Airport Beach in June, is bound for the Chukchi Sea. The Kulluk drill ship is now halfway to the Beaufort Sea.
But the drilling season is already almost over, with only a month left to drill in the Chukchi, and two months left in the Beaufort, and for that reason Shell is asking the government for more time.
According to 'Alaskapublic', the company is also working with the Interior Department for more flexibility on the kinds of wells it can drill this season. Shell is still trying to finish retrofitting its oil spill response vessel, which has to be Coast Guard-certified before it can head north to the Arctic. They can’t drill full test wells unless that oil spill response ship is on hand.
However, Shell has asked the Interior Department to waive the need for a response barge and let them drill the first sections of their test wells on the grounds that they would not be able to reach hydrocarbon deposits, but could lay the groundwork for the first test wells of the 2013 drilling season.