A caravan of ships departed the Seattle-area this morning en route to Alaska, where they appear increasingly likely to conduct an offshore exploration campaign for Shell.
The Kulluk and Noble Discoverer drilling rigs and a fleet of support vessels left Seattle, Wash., around 6:30 a.m. Alaska time, bound for Dutch Harbor. Upon their arrival, the ships will wait for open water before continuing to the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.
“The journey north marks the beginning of another historic offshore exploration program in Alaska,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to adding to our long, successful history in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas; providing jobs and verifying what could prove to be an extremely valuable natural resource base for Alaska and the nation.”
On Monday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement watched a test of the capping stack Shell plans to have on hand in the event of an oil spill.
“The successful deployment of Shell’s Arctic capping stack in Puget Sound means we are nearing the end of an extremely thorough inspection and permitting process that would allow for exploratory drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas this summer,” Shell said.
The company must still get final drilling permits before beginning its campaign.
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