Report on 2012 Kulluk grounding pins blame on Shell

Seattle: Shell deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the 2012 grounding of the rig Kulluk in Alaska, says the official report into the incident released on Thursday.

In the verdict of the US National Transportation Safety Board, which produced the report, Shell made an inadequate assessment of the risk for its planned tow of the Kulluk.

The rig was en route from Unalaska to Seattle on December 21 that year, under tow by the supply vessel Aiviq when it grounded in heavy weather near Ocean Bay on the eastern coast of Sitkalidak Island.

NTSB attributed the accident to shortcomings in the plan’s design, including the towing equipment having had only one external review, and the lack of requirement for the US Coast Guard to oversee the tow.

Those failings are laid at Shell’s door in the report, the timing of which could hardly be worse for the Dutch oil giant as it is preparing to return to Arctic offshore exploration for the first time since the Kulluk incident.

Shell’s oil-exploration fleet is assembled in Seattle ready to head north and drill with two rigs in the Chukchi Sea as soon as some red tape and logistical issues are resolved.

Opponents of the plan will lap up the NTSB’s report as proof that Shell should not be allowed back there.


Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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