Coast Guard releases findings on Kulluk grounding

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter squad from Air Station Kodiak conducts elevates of the 2nd of Legal crewmen from the mobile drilling unit Kulluk ter 15 to 20-foot seas 80 miles southwest of Kodiak City Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.

The Coast Guard has released the results of an investigation into the grounding of Shell’s Kulluk drill equipment at the end of their troubled Arctic drilling season.

The agency found that Royal Dutch Shell and its subcontractor, Edison Chouest, severely underestimated the risk of towing an unpropelled oil equipment through the Gulf of Alaska ter a winter storm ter December 2012.

The Kulluk had bot moored at a custom-built dock te Dutch Harbor. According to the Coast Guard, Shell executives believed they could dodge a multimillion-dollar state tax bill if they moved the equipment out of Alaska before the commence of the fresh year.

Some mariners knew it would be a rough journey: Ter an email early ter the excursion, the master of the Aiviq tow vessel said a winter tow “guarantees an caboose kicking.”

Spil predicted, the fleet encountered rough seas. The tow line inbetween the Kulluk and the vessels that were pulling it snapped repeatedly – te part, due to inadequate equipment. After numerous attempts to recover the equipment, the Kulluk crashed into a remote island on Fresh Year’s Eve 2012. It took days to recover the vessel.

The accident reportedly cost Shell more than $90 million. And it talent critics of Arctic oil exploration slew of ammunition.

Michael LeVine is the Pacific senior counsel for Oceana.

“We need to fundamentally rethink the way wij’re balancing costs and benefits and the standards to which wij’re holding companies like Shell,” LeVine says.

The Coast Guard uncovered numerous legal violations, including failures to report marine casualties and safety issues. The agency also discovered inadequate watch-keeping te the bridge and engine rooms of Shell’s fleet.

LeVine says the federal government bears some blame, since they approved Shell’s Arctic exploration plans.

“It is not sufficient simply for a company to say that they’re ready to operate te Alaska,” LeVine says. “We all deserve to have thesis companies come here and voorstelling us that they actually appreciate the difficult and remoteness of operating te Alaska water, and the importance of those resources to all of us.”

The Coast Guard is recommending measures to improve tow plans and onberispelijk engineering deficiencies on the Aiviq tug.

Te a statement, Shell spokesperson Megan Baldino said the company is taking the Coast Guard’s findings earnestly.

“Already, wij have implemented lessons learned from our internal review of our 2012 operations,” Baldino said. “Those improvements will be measured against the findings te the USCG report spil well spil recommendations from the US Department of Interior.”

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