San Francisco: The US federal government’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) revealed on Thursday that it had conducted inspections on elements of Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet.
Drillship Noble Discoverer and Transocean rig Polar Pioneer were examined by two BSEE officers while in Dutch Harbour, Alaska.
The inspections happened between July 7-12 says BSEE, which is an agency of the Interior Department, the government department that gives drilling authorisations.
Shell’s 29-strong fleet is all but ready for the Arctic campaign in the Chukchi Sea off of Alaska, pending two more authorisations.
But the icebreaker Fennica, which is carrying a capping stack – a crucial device that can be used to contain a blown out well – is in drydock in Portland, Oregon for repairs on a gash to its hull that caused leaks from its ballast tanks.
The Fennica was also inspected by the BSEE officials in Dutch Harbour, when they confirmed the capping stack had not been damaged in the incident.
If and when drilling is finally approved and commences BSEE inspectors will be aboard both drilling vessels constantly for the duration of the operation.