Feds Launch Urgent Review of Arctic Drilling

Alaska accident renews debate on Shell exploration
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2013 3:30 AM CST
Feds Launch Urgent Review of Arctic Drilling
This image provided by the US Coast Guard shows the Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig Kulluk aground off a small island near Kodiak Island, Wednesday Jan. 2, 2013.    (AP Photo/US Coast Guard)

An accident involving a Shell drill ship in Alaskan waters has prompted an urgent Interior Department review of oil and gas activities in Arctic waters. The running aground of the Kulluk rig is just the latest in a series of accidents and blunders involving Shell equipment in the region and critics say the incidents show that the company is incapable of drilling safely for oil in Arctic waters, the New York Times reports.

"We’ve repeatedly been told Shell is the best in the business, and so we can only conclude after this series of mishaps that the best in the business is simply not good enough for the Arctic," says a Greenpeace campaign director. The 60-day review, which will probe Shell's safety management systems, may end up delaying or scaling back the company's $4.5 billion Arctic exploration plans even if the Kulluk rig is able to return to service. (More Arctic Sea stories.)

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