Shell Demonstrates Arctic Spill Response Capabilities

By Wendy Laursen

The Maritime Executive

Shell’s controversial plan to recommence drilling operations in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea has been met with protest by people from around the world. However, Shell’s Alaska program has gone to great lengths to make sure a worst-case scenario, such as an oil spill, never takes place, and the company has just released an animation demonstrating its spill response capabilities.

Shell is preparing 25 vessels to begin a two-year drilling program in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska. Although Shell had to pull out of the region in 2012 after an oil rig ran aground, the Arctic oil reserve “remains a massive value opportunity,” the company has said.

A New Plan

Shell has submitted new plans to explore the Arctic to the U.S. Interior Department after the Obama administration upheld a 2008 Arctic lease sale last month, clearing an important hurdle for the company. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has until May 10 to approve or reject Shell’s plans.

The new plan proposes continuing the Chukchi Sea drilling exploration that initially began in July 2012. The program outlines the drilling of up to six wells within the Burger Prospect that would be completed using the drillship Noble Discoverer and the semi-submersible drilling unit Polar Pioneer. The vessels would be removed from the Chukchi at the conclusion of each drilling season.

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