Shell oil spill drills to be observed by government

San Francisco: Shell is putting its Arctic oil spill response system to the test with emergency drills in water near Bellingham, Washington State.

The company is preparing a new round of exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska later this year, pending government approval but that is expected to be a formality with an announcement likely from Department of the Interior secretary Sally Jewell.

Government officials will observe Shell’s safety drill, which begins in earnest on Friday, and should demonstrate the deployment of the emergency containment system from the barge Arctic Challenger.

Shell’s plan to resume exploration in the Arctic plan has drawn much objection from environmentalists. In the week that marked the 26th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, oil spill hazards are very much on people’s minds.

And as recently as 2012 Shell’s previous Arctic venture was cut short when the emergency containment system was damaged during a deployment test. And the same year Shell’s prized Arctic drilling rig Kulluk became grounded near Kodiak Island.

In Seattle, Washington, there was an outcry by politicians and the public over the Port of Seattle’s decision to lease a terminal to Foss Maritime on behalf of Shell to be a mooring place for the company’s Arctic rigs.


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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