Business, Economics and Jobs

Shell oil rig Kulluk runs aground in Alaska


A Greenpeace environmental activist covers the logo of the Shell oil company to protest on May 10, 2012 against the heading of the an icebreaker for Shell's Arctic oil drilling project in the north of Alaska.


Michal Cizek

The Kulluk, a giant offshore drilling rig operated by Royal Dutch Shell PLC, ran aground on an island in the Gulf of Alaska about 250 miles south of Anchorage on New Year’s Eve, NPR News reported.

The Kulluk is one of two rigs that Shell has used to drill test wells off Alaska as it explores the possibility of oil production in Arctic waters, the New York Times reported.

The rig, which is holding more than 150,000 gallons of diesel, oil and hydraulic fluid, was being towed by two ships in rough seas to a Seattle shipyard for off-season maintenance when it got disconnected from its towlines, NPR reported.

One towline broke or got otherwise separated and the second ship unhitched its towline a few hours later out of fears that the rig could drag the boat and its nine-person crew under the 35-high waves, the New York Times reported.

The rig ran aground on the uninhabited Sitkalidak Island, near Kodiak Island around 9 p.m., NPR News reported.

A Coast Guard helicopter that flew over the rig after it grounded “detected no visible sheen” of leaking oil, Darci Sinclair, a spokeswoman for a group of Shell officials and Alaskan state agencies working to mitigate the situation, told the New York Times.

The Coast Guard is continuing to investigate the extent of the damage today, the New York Times reported.

The Kulluk’s crew of 18 was evacuated on Saturday, after the rig ran into initial towing trouble, NPR News reported.

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