Shell’s floating drilling platform, the Kulluk, yesterday departed north from Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, heading for the Beaufort Sea, Shell spokesman Curtis Smith has told Petroleum News. After reaching the Beaufort the Kulluk and its support vessels will remain on stand-by until after the end of the fall whale hunt.
“After that time, and in anticipation of receiving the final permits needed to operate, the Kulluk will connect to several anchors that were recently staged over Shell’ prospects,” Smith said.
At the beginning of August Shell deployed three vessels north from Dutch Harbor to prepare drilling sites in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.
Shell is still waiting for completion of work on its containment barge, the Arctic Challenger, and U.S. Coast Guard certification of that vessel before it can obtain its drilling permits from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and start drilling. It is possible that the Kulluk could prepare the seafloor cellars for wellheads before the containment barge is ready, but that possibility would need to be confirmed with the Department of the Interior, Smith said.
The Noble Discover, the drillship that Shell plans to use in the Chukchi Sea is still at Dutch Harbor – the transit time from Dutch Harbor to the Chukchi is several days less than to the Beaufort, Smith said.
See story in Aug. 26 issue, available online at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 24, at www.PetroleumNews.com