US calls for Alaska Shell rig inquiry

A group of US politicians is calling for a “thorough investigation” into a string of recent incidents with oil ships drilling in the Arctic, following the recent grounding of a […]

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By Vicky Ellis

A group of US politicians is calling for a “thorough investigation” into a string of recent incidents with oil ships drilling in the Arctic, following the recent grounding of a ship owned by oil firm Shell on its way back from Alaska.

Anglo-Dutch firm Shell’s drillship, the Kulluk (pictured from above), grounded on Sitkalidak Island in Alaska on New Year’s Eve while being towed through extreme weather between Alaska and the US port of Seattle.

The ship is still grounded, with Shell stating on Friday a recovery team had found “no signs of environmental impact”. The firm added: “There has been no leakage of the low-sulphur diesel fuel or hydraulic fluid stored in strong tanks onboard the vessel.”

However an environmental group of politicians in the House of Republicans wants the US Department of the Interior and the Coast Guard to run a joint investigation into the incident.

The members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) said in a statement: “The recent grounding of Shell’s Kulluk oil rig amplifies the risks of drilling in the Arctic. This is the latest in a series of alarming blunders, including the near grounding of another of Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs, the 47-year-old Noble Discoverer, in Dutch Harbor and the failure of its blowout containment dome, the Arctic Challenger, in lake-like conditions.”

They added the “serious incidents warrant thorough investigation.”