Curtis Smith News

08 Jan 2018

As US Opens Up Offshore Waters, Eastern GoM Beckons

© xmentoys / Adobe Stock

President Donald Trump's administration has proposed opening up nearly all of America's offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, but the industry says it is mainly interested in one part of it, now cordoned off by the Pentagon: the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The industry's focus on an area located near a sprawling network of existing platforms, pipes and ports could ease the path to new reserves, and assuage the drilling opponents near other places offered under the Interior Department's proposed drilling plan issued last week, like California's Pacific, the Atlantic and Arctic.

29 Oct 2015

Polar Pioneer Returns to Port Angeles

Image: Shell

The Polar Pioneer oil rig arrived in Port Angeles on Wednesday. Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said Port Angeles was an “excellent location for load-out” before the drilling season and remains fit for that purpose. The 400-foot tall rig  is expected to spend a “handful of weeks” at the port for offloading, he said. Its final destination hasn't been determined yet. Due to legal wrangling and protests in Seattle, Shell Oil is sending the Polar Pioneer here for offloading instead of Seattle.

17 Aug 2015

US Gives Shell Final Nod to Drill for Oil in Arctic

Fennica (Photo: Arctia Shipping)

The Obama administration on Monday granted Royal Dutch Shell the final permit to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic for the first time since 2012, a move environmentalists vowed to fight. The Interior Department gave Shell the final permit to drill into the oil zone in the Chukchi Sea off northern Alaska after the Fennica, an icebreaker the company leases that carries emergency well-plugging equipment, was repaired after suffering a gash in its hull. The permit was expected as…

30 Jul 2015

Activists Block Shell's Arctic Drilling Quest

Greenpeace protestors dangling from a bridge on Thursday in Portland, Oregon, halted an icebreaker that Royal Dutch Shell needs in northern Alaska before it can start drilling into the region's oil zone. The 13 Greenpeace protestors, who rappelled down from the bridge over the Willamette River early on Wednesday, are hoping to shorten Shell's Arctic drilling season by stopping the Fennica icebreaker, which is carrying emergency equipment that would cap any blown-out well. Shell needs to have the Fennica in Alaska before it can start drilling into the oil zone in the Chukchi, the Interior Department said last week. Shell would like to have the Fennica in Alaska as soon as possible as drilling season ends in October, when sea ice encroaches. The Fennica stalled once it neared the St.

29 Jul 2015

Oregon Bridge Danglers Hope to Delay Shell's Arctic Drilling

Protestors rappelled off a bridge in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday hoping to delay Royal Dutch Shell's Arctic oil exploration this summer by blocking the return of a ship to Alaska that holds emergency equipment. Greenpeace said 13 protestors lowered themselves from the St. John's bridge in the early morning and 13 others on the traffic level of the bridge are assisting them. "Depending on the weather they can stay there for three to five days," said Cassady Sharp, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, which says Arctic drilling could be damaging to populations of whales, polar bears and walrus if there is an oil spill. The danglers have food and water and plan to sleep in hammocks suspended over the Willamette River, which provides shipping access to the Pacific Ocean from Portland.

13 Jul 2015

Damaged Shell Ship Needed for Arctic Drilling Heads to Oregon

Fennica (Photo: Arctia Shipping)

Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday that an icebreaker crucial to its planned Arctic oil drilling will be sent to Portland, Oregon, to repair a gash in its hull, but is not expected to delay plans to begin drilling off northern Alaska later in July. The 39-inch (1 meter) gash in the hull of the Fennica was found last week. Voyage time between Portland and southern Alaska should not delay the company's plans to begin drilling off northern Alaska in the Chukchi Sea later this month, Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said.

23 Jun 2015

Environmentalists: Walrus Population at Risk in Arctic

Green groups urged the U.S. Department of Interior on Tuesday to revoke the agency's conditional approval of Royal Dutch Shell's 2015 Arctic oil exploration plan, saying it runs counter to established protections for walruses. A 2013 rule implemented by the Fish and Wildlife Service, a bureau of the Interior Department, prevents energy companies from exploring for oil simultaneously at wells in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska that are within 15 miles (24 km) of each other. The rule is meant to protect walrus populations that are sensitive to the noise and disruption of drilling in their habitat. But Shell's exploration plan for the Chukchi…

03 Jun 2015

Environmentalists Sue BOEM over Shell Plan to Drill in Arctic

Image credit: The Climate Desk

Ten major environmental groups filed a lawsuit on June 2 challenging the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) approval of Royal Dutch Shell's exploration plan for drilling in the Chukchi Sea this summer. The lawsuit seeks a review of permits granted to Royal Dutch Shell PLC by the BOEM for exploratory drilling in the Chukchi (chuk-CHEE’) Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast. Shell paid $2.1 billion for its Arctic leases. The oil giant intends to drill six exploratory wells this summer at a site about 75 miles northwest of the Alaska hamlet of Wainwright.

17 May 2015

Seattle Flotilla Protests Shell's Arctic Drilling Plans

Environment Friendly Port of Seattle

Hundreds of activists in kayaks and small boats fanned out on a Seattle bay on Saturday to protest plans by Royal Dutch Shell to resume oil exploration in the Arctic and keep two of its drilling rigs stored in the city's port. Environmental groups have vowed to disrupt the Anglo-Dutch oil company's efforts to use the Seattle as a home base as it outfits the rigs to return to the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, saying drilling in the remote Arctic waters could lead to an ecological catastrophe.

27 Dec 2012

M/V Aiviq

The M/V Aiviq icebreaker, contracted by Shell Oil to support drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, was ordered in July 2009 and completed by Edison Chouest Offshore in early 2012. The $200m Aiviq is the largest vessel ever built by Chouest, and will be among the most advanced and powerful, non-military icebreakers on the waters. In order for a ship to be “ice class,” the hull must be thick, and extra girders, beams and bulkheads are needed for structural integrity. The Aiviq is designed to American Bureau of Shipping A3 capabilities to operate in frigid…

02 Aug 2012

Arctic Alaska Bound Units of Shell Fleet Set Sail

Icebreaker 'Fennica': Photo credit Wikimedia CCL

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…

16 Jul 2012

Shell Arctic Drillship's Close Shave

“While moored off the coast of Dutch Harbor, the Noble Discoverer drill ship drifted toward land and stopped very near the coast. One of Shell’s vessels, the Lauren Foss, then safely towed the Discoverer to its prior mooring position,” Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said in a statement. Francis said a soft seabed that allowed the ship to drag its anchor and winds of up to 35 mph probably contributed to the problem. The area of the island the vessel approached is uninhabited and not far from Dutch Harbor, about 600 miles southwest of Kodiak. The Nobel Discoverer is one of two Shell ships that will drill exploratory oil wells in the Arctic waters of Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

28 Jun 2012

Vigor Marine Completes Work on the Kulluk and Noble Discoverer

The Kulluk and Noble Discoverer set sail for the Arctic today from Vigor Industrial’s Seattle shipyard, following completion of extensive environmental and safety upgrades by its commercial ship repair subsidiary, Vigor Marine. The Kulluk, an ice-classed semi-submersible drill rig measuring 266’ x 230’, arrived at Vigor’s Seattle yard in July, 2011. Following the work done by Vigor Marine teams, it will operate with zero discharge in the Beaufort and Chuckchi Seas. Everything down to the sink water will be captured and stored.

15 Jun 2012

Vigor Completes Conversion of Barge Klamath

Vigor Marine, a Vigor Industrial subsidiary, recently completed work on Barge Klamath, converting the vessel from a petroleum tank barge to an OSVR measuring 350’ x 76’ x 22’. The barge is owned by Crowley and leased to Shell as part of its comprehensive Alaskan oil spill response fleet in the Beaufort and Chuckchi seas. “Vigor’s extensive expertise in ice classing vessels for arctic waters, combined with the geographic proximity of their facilities, has made them a strong partner for Shell’s planned offshore operations in Alaska,” said Curtis Smith, spokesman for Shell Alaska.

17 Jan 2012

Arctic Oil Exploration: Shell Awaits New Giant Icebreaker

The Nanuq was outfitted with oil-spill-response capabilities well before the 2010 Macondo spill in the Gulf, he noted. The Aiviq is designed to work in tandem with the Nanuq. (Photo Courtesy Shell)

The M/V Aiviq icebreaker, contracted by Shell Oil to support drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, is scheduled to be completed by Louisiana-based Edison Chouest Offshore in early 2012. The vessel, ordered in July 2009, is on track for April 1, 2012, delivery in Galliano, La., and will then head north, according to Shell Oil spokesman Curtis Smith. The $200m Aiviq is the largest vessel ever built by Chouest, and will be among the most advanced and powerful, non-military icebreakers on the waters.

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