Shell is going to move its floating drilling platform the Kulluk to a harbor with a suitable dry dock in Asia for repair, company spokesman Curtis Smith said yesterday. The Kulluk has been anchored in a bay on the south side of Kodiak Island since Jan. 7, having been refloated after running aground in a severe storm on the evening of Dec. 31 while being towed from Dutch Harbor to the U.S. West Coast for maintenance work.
The company is also moving the drillship Noble Discover to a shipyard in Korea for repair, Smith said. The drillship has been moored in the port of Seward for several weeks, incapacitated with propulsion problems. Like the Kulluk, the Discoverer had been en route for the West Coast.
Smith said that the timing of the moves will depend on obtaining approved tow plans, with the Kulluk being towed first to Dutch Harbor. Both the Kulluk and the Noble Discoverer will be transported to Asia using what is called a “dry tow,” a procedure in which the vessel being transported sits on the deck of a large heavy-lift vessel.
Smith also said that the timing of the shipyard work and the return to service of the rigs will depend on further inspections of both rigs.
“We have not made any final decision on 2013 drilling in Alaska,” Smith said. “Mapping the next steps for the Kulluk and the Noble Discoverer is a multifaceted operation and today’s update is a result of those new plans being solidified.”
See story in Feb. 17 issue, available online Friday, Feb. 15 at 11 a.m. at PetroleumNews.com