The U.S. Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping have certified the Arctic Challenger, the oil containment barge that Shell plans to use as part of its oil spill response fleet in support of the company’s exploration activities in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, Pete Slaiby, Shell’s Alaska vice president, today told a field hearing in Anchorage of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
Delays in completion of the work of retrofitting the barge with Shell’s new Arctic containment system and the consequent delay in certification of the vessel have been primary factors in causing Shell to trim back this year’s Alaska drilling program to the drilling of top holes, rather than complete wells. Deployment of the Arctic Challenger is essential to the issuance by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement of permits to drill into hydrocarbon zones in the two seas.
Although the certification of the Arctic Challenger comes too late to enable Shell to drill into hydrocarbons this year, the barge will presumably be fully ready for deployment in next year’s summer drilling season.
See story in Oct. 21 issue, available online on Friday, Oct. 19 at 11 a.m. at www.PetroleumNews.com