On Sunday, the damaged, rusting hulk of the Shell drill rig Noble Discoverer was placed aboard the partially submerged heavy lift vessel, Xiang Yun Kou, in upper Resurrection Bay. Story and excellent photographs for the Seward City News, by Carol Griswold:
Guided by powerful tugs, Shell Oil’s drilling rig, the Noble Discoverer, began its slow but steady journey from the Alaska Railroad Dock to the waiting semi-submerged transport ship around 6:30 am on Saturday morning. Calm seas helped make this delicate operation much easier.
By early afternoon, the rig was temporarily secured in place, and the transport ship began to pump out the ballast water.
By evening, the rig rode high and dry on the cargo deck, lights blazing.
Over the next few days, welders, including graduates of the AVTEC welding program, will secure the rig to the ship for the month-long journey across the North Pacific Ocean to the repair facility in South Korea.I do like that Shell is using people from the AVTEC school for the hard tie-down. I'll be surprised if the journey takes an entire month, but it is possible.
Note that the Aiviq is now berthed in Seward, on the west side of the Alaska Railroad dock:
• The Kulluk should be getting close to Dutch Harbor.
• Sunday, the conservative Seattle Times published an editorial critical of Shell's 2012 Arctic drilling activities:
MOTHER Nature made the point the Obama administration chose to ignore two years ago as it was processing an application by Shell Oil to proceed with oil and gas development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
The Arctic Ocean is a rough place to do business.
Shell operations were pummeled in both locations last year, and last week the company called off plans for the 2013 drilling season.
Oil rigs had trouble, and so did a new tug. Harsh weather, accidents and errors combined to send the Shell rigs to Asia for repairs.
All of the early warnings were seemingly ignored during the permitting process, so high winds and seas, ice and limited visibility made the point.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico made the hazards and difficulties clear. Imagine spill response within truly harsh conditions.
Respect the lessons learned.• Needless to say, some are miffed in the Seattle area, as the mismanagement of Shell's fleet evacuation from Alaska to Puget Sound resulted in the loss of tens of millions of dollars worth of repair and modification contract work in shipyards down there.
• Within a week, we should see the issuance of the Department of Interior 60-day review of Shell's Arctic drilling plan.