On October 3, 2012, at approximately 2:45PM AKDT, the Kulluk began drilling at Shell’s Sivulliq prospect. Shell has noted that the occasion is historic in that it’s the first time two rigs have been drilling simultaneously offshore Alaska in over two decades. The Noble Discoverer has been drilling at Shell’s Burger prospect in the Chukchi Sea since September.
“In the weeks ahead we look forward to operating safely and responsibly, putting Americans to work and adding to Shell’s long, successful history of drilling offshore Alaska,” said Pete Slaiby, VP Alaska.
Bought by Shell in 2005, the Kulluk was speciﬁcally designed and constructed for extended season drilling operations in Arctic waters.
- Shell starts exploratory drilling in Beaufort Sea (fuelfix.com)
- Shell begins second drilling operation in Alaska’s Arctic seas (fuelfix.com)
- Shell prepares for Beaufort Sea drilling (fuelfix.com)
Shell Alaska yesterday began drilling operations at its Burger prospect in the Chukchi Sea, offshore Alaska. The Noble Discoverer drillship is being used for the operations.
“The occasion is historic. It’s the first time a drill bit has touched the sea floor in the U.S. Chukchi Sea in more than two decades. Today marks the culmination of Shell’s six-year effort to explore for potentially significant oil and gas reserves, which are believed to lie under Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf. In the days to come, drilling will continue in the Chukchi Sea, and we will prepare for drilling to commence in the Beaufort Sea,” said the company in a press release.
- Arctic frontier opens as Shell begins drilling in Chukchi Sea (fuelfix.com)
- Statoil delays start of Chukchi drilling until at least 2015 (fuelfix.com)
- Drilling Off The Alaska Coast For The First Time In More Than Two Decades (alan.com)
The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has announced it will class the first-of-its-kind Arctic Containment System (ACS), which will serve all exploration activities in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas offshore Alaska. The ACS will be deployed in June 2012.
ABS explains that a modular oil containment system will be installed on the deck of the non self-propelled ice-strengthened barge following its conversion to a floating offshore installation The dedicated barge will remain unmanned and on standby until deployed. Then, assisted by a tugboat, its trained crew will be able to respond to an oil spill incident in the exploration areas in a matter of days.
Shell has plans to drill up to six exploration wells off the coast of Alaska, later this year and has contracted with Superior Energy, the operator of the ACS, for the containment system to be available during the summer drilling season. The containment system would be able to mitigate spillage in the time it takes to drill an intervention well.
The oil giant’s Arctic drilling plans have been facing strong opposition from environmental activists. Today, twenty Greenpeace activists boarded two icebreakers leased by Shell from Finland’s Arctia Offshore. Shell has leased the vessels to support its upcoming drilling operations offshore Alaska.
- USA: Shell’s Chukchi Sea Oil Spill Response Plan Approved (mb50.wordpress.com)
- BP, Shell to partake in arctic drilling inquiry, Telegraph says (mb50.wordpress.com)
Shell announced on its website that the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) denied all petitions for review of Shell’s Noble Discoverer OCS air permits.
As a result, Shell has, for the first time, usable air permits that will allow the Noble Discoverer to work in the Alaska OCS beginning in 2012.
“Achieving usable permits from the EPA is a very important step for Shell and one of the strongest indicators to date that we will be exploring our Beaufort and Chukchi leases in July. That our air permits for the Noble Discoverer withstood appeal is a testament to the robust nature of the work we have done to have the smallest possible impact on the Arctic air shed and further validates that Shell is a company uniquely-positioned to deliver a world-class drilling program in the Alaska offshore. We look forward to continued progress on the permitting front and remain committed to working with regulators and stakeholders to achieve all of the permits necessary to drill in 2012.” reads Shell’s statement.
Wilderness Society Director, Lois Epstein, recently expressed her opinion in which she assumed that neither Alaskans, the Nation nor Shell is, “ready to drill safely in the Arctic.” Ms. Epstein signed-on to a letter that claims Shell should be denied Arctic air permits because emissions from their drilling rigs and oil spill response fleet will accelerate global warming.
Pete Slaiby, Shell Alaska VP responded that “Shell has been arctic-ready for years”, saying that Shell and others have successfully drilled over 35 wells in the Alaska offshore without incident and that “Shell, alone, has dedicated more resources to Arctic science in the last five years than all Federal agencies combined.”
- USA: Environmental Groups Challenge EPA’s Permits for Shell’s Drillships
- Shell’s Arctic Drilling Plans Suffer Another Blow
- USA: Shell Makes Important Step toward Arctic Offshore Drilling
- USA: Offshore Drilling Rig Noble Bully I Arrives in Gulf of Mexico
- Alaska: Apex Reports Shell Prepares Drilling Machinery for Chukchi and Beaufort Seas
- BP, Shell to partake in arctic drilling inquiry, Telegraph says (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Shell Arctic drilling permit affirmed (cbc.ca)
- Shell Just Got The Air Permits It Needs For Exploratory Arctic Drilling (businessinsider.com)
BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Cairn Energy Plc are among companies that may be asked to provide information on drilling in the Arctic to the U.K.’s Environmental Audit Committee later this year, the Sunday Telegraph reported, citing Committee Chairman Joan Walley.
- MPs to quiz oil giants BP, Shell and Cairn Energy on Arctic drilling safety (telegraph.co.uk)
- Guggenheim Partners announces Arctic investment fund (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Now Russia’s Joint Venture With BP Is Spending $10 Billion To Find Oil In The Arctic (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Is the Industry Ready to Drill in the Arctic? Stena Drillmax Ice Nears Delivery (mb50.wordpress.com)
Environmentalists fear the move by the privately held investment firm based in the US will accelerate exploitation of the region
Leo Hickman guardian.co.uk
Guggenheim Partners, a privately held investment firm based in the US, which manages more than $125bn worth of assets on behalf of its clients, has confirmed it is setting up a new fund dedicated to making investments in the Arctic region.
The news has been criticised by environmentalists who fear that it will further accelerate the exploitation by oil and shipping companies of the region which is being made even more accessible by climate change.
The fund was first revealed over the weekend at a conference held by the Juneau World Affairs Council in the Alaskan capital on the “politics of climate change“. Alice Rogoff, the publisher of Alaska Dispatch who is married to one of America’s wealthiest men, Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, told the conference that she had learned Guggenheim Partners was planning a fund “worth billions”. She added that it might concentrate first on building a privately funded icebreaker, which could then be leased to the US coastguard.
There have been growing calls in Alaska for a $1bn “heavy” ice breaker which could be used not just to help tackle any possible oil spills and perform search and rescue duties, but also further secure new shipping routes into the area. Shell confirmed last year that it is already building two of its own icebreakers in preparation of it being granted an extended permit to drill in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas from next year onwards.
Mead Treadwell, Alaska’s lieutenant general, said the fund was a “major announcement” for the region, adding that the Alaskan Arctic also currently lacks a deepwater port. Without such a port available, he said, oil companies would incur extra costs by having to supply a “flotilla” of support vessels when drilling at sea.
The Guggenheim Partners website posted a link to an Alaska Dispatch story about the fund, but a company spokesman refused to provide any specific details. “We are in the very early planning stages for an Arctic investment fund,” said Jeffrey Kelley. “At this point in time it would be premature to comment further about potential structure or investment parameters.”
A permanently secured route through the Bering Strait up into the Arctic would be a major boon to shipping companies and resource extractors. Last month, Nordic Bulk Carriers, a Danish shipping company, said it would save a third of its usual costs and nearly half the time shipping goods if a route to China was available through the Arctic instead of via the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean.
Ben Ayliffe, an Arctic campaigner for Greenpeace, criticized the fund: “We shouldn’t be surprised that the industry which got us into the worst global economic crisis in living memory now has the planet’s last great wilderness in its sights. But, even by its own standards, it would seem exceedingly short-sighted to pour billions of dollars into the extraction of climate-changing fossil fuels just as scientists warn that the Arctic’s summer sea ice is entering what they call a ‘death spiral’.”
Greenpeace is campaigning for the Arctic to be better protected.
- Time to Take Alaska Out of the Icebox (gcaptain.com)
- Here’s Why You Need To Watch The Burgeoning Relationship Between China And Greenland (mb50.wordpress.com)