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Shell 'should face possible penalties over Kulluk oil rig grounding'

Andrew Trotman - The Telegraph

Report by US Coast Guard blames poor risk assessment and management for grounding of rig in Gulf of Alaska in 2012

A US Coast Guard report has concluded that authorities should consider hitting Shell with penalties over the grounding of an oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Alaska in 2012.

The 152-page report, released late on Thursday night, blamed poor risk assessment and management as reasons why the Kulluk broke away from its tow vessel in late December 2012 and ran aground four days later on Sitkalidak Island, near Kodiak.

It also stated that Alaska’s tax laws influenced the decision to tow the Kulluk to Seattle. Shell believed the drill vessel would have qualified as taxable property on January 1, 2013, if it was still in Alaskan waters.

The report came 10 months after a Coast Guard hearing in Anchorage into the causes of the accident. The Kulluk broke free of a custom-made vessel, called the Aviq, that was towing it during a storm. Numerous attempts by the Aviq and the Coast Guard to bring the Kulluk under control failed. The report stated that the master of the Aviq emailed the tow master with his concerns nine days before the incident.

“To be blunt, I believe that this length of tow, at this time of year, in this location, with our current routing guarantees an ass kicking,” he wrote.

No one was injured but damage to the Kulluk played a role in Shell’s decision to forego Arctic offshore drilling last year.

Shell said: "We appreciate the thorough investigation and will take any findings seriously. Already, we have implemented lessons learned from our internal review of our 2012 operations. Those improvements will be measured against the findings in the US Coast Guard report as well as recommendations from the US Department of Interior."

Posted Date: 
5 April 2014