Drifting Shell drill ship grounds on rocks off Alaska
The ship, the Kulluk, broke away from one of its tow lines on Monday afternoon and was driven, within hours, to rocks just off Kodiak Island, where it grounded at about 9 p.m. Alaska time, officials said.
The 18-member crew had been evacuated by the Coast Guard late Saturday because of risks from the ongoing storm.
With winds reported at up to 60 miles an hour and Gulf of Alaska seas of up to 35 feet, responders were unable to keep the ship from grounding, said Coast Guard Commander Shane Montoya, the leader of the incident command team.
"We are now entering into the salvage and possible spill-response phase of this event," Montoya told a news conference late on Monday night in Anchorage.
There is no known spill and no reports of damage yet, but the Kulluk has about 155,000 gallons of fuel on board, Montoya said.
The grounding of the Kulluk, a conical, Arctic-class drill ship weighing nearly 28,000 gross tons, is a blow to Shell's $4.5 billion offshore programme in Alaska.
Shell's plan to convert the area in to a major new oil frontier has alarmed environmentalists and many Alaska Natives but excited industry supporters.
Environmentalists and Native opponents say the drilling program threatens a fragile region that is already being battered by rapid climate change.
"Shell and its contractors are no match for Alaska's weather and sea conditions either
Be the first to comment.