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Justice Dept to Consider Shell Arctic Rig Shortcomings

February 26, 2013

Noble Discoverer: Photo credit USCG

Noble Discoverer: Photo credit USCG

The Coast Guard found serious safety & environmental violations on 'Noble Discoverer' used in Arctic waters off Alaska.

The Coast Guard found 16 violations on the Noble Discoverer, one of Shell’s two drilling rigs for Alaska’s Arctic waters. The company’s other rig, the Kulluk, has its own troubles, reports the Anchorage Daily News.

The Noble Discoverer is a converted log carrier owned and operated by Noble Corp. (NE) for Shell’s Arctic efforts. The 514-foot-long rig was built in 1966 and converted into a drilling ship 10 years later. It has been upgraded and refurbished to work in the Arctic at a cost of $193 million. The vessel dragged its anchor and nearly grounded in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, before the start of its drilling work.

According to the newspaper, the Coast Guard found the Noble Discoverer could not go fast enough to safely maneuver on its own in all the expected conditions found in Alaska’s Arctic waters, also finding systematic failure and lack of main engine preventative maintenance, which caused a propulsion loss and exhaust system explosion.

Among other issues listed were inoperable equipment used to measure the oil in water that is dumped overboard, improper line splices throughout the engine room, piston cooling water contaminated with sludge and an abnormal propeller shaft vibration.

Source: Anchorage Daily News


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