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The drillship Noble Discoverer undergoes sea trials off Singapore in November 2014, following shipyard work and upgrades. Those improvements included a new main propulsion system, environmental controls and enhancements to the drilling systems. (Photo: Noble Corp.)

Coast Guard clears Shell drillship bound for Arctic

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The Noble Discoverer, now docked in Washington state waters, has received a critical “certificate of compliance” from the U.S. Coast Guard verifying it meets a host of safety and security requirements. Since a May 20 Coast Guard inspection, Shell and Noble cleared more than a dozen violations documented at the vessel.
The capping stack -- part of Shell's "Arctic Containment System" for a blown-out well -- is tested in waters near Washington state. Here, it is lifted by an A-frame before being lowered 150 feet into the water. (Photo: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement)

Feds say Shell completed test for blown-out well response ahead of Arctic drilling

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The exercises, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday in waters near Washington state, focused on Shell’s capping stack, designed to sit atop a damaged well and choke off flowing oil and gas.
The Polar Pioneer, a drilling rig contracted by Shell for Chukchi Sea exploration in 2015, is transported across the Pacific on the heavy-lift vessel Blue Marlin. (Photo: Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace)

No “showstoppers” yet for Shell’s Arctic drilling plans

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An emergency containment system was being tested in waters near Washington state on Tuesday, while those drilling permit reviews are under way.
A drilling rig under contract to Shell arrives in Port Angeles, Washington en route to Alaska's Chukchi Sea, where Shell hopes to drill this summer. (Daniella Beccaria/seattlepi.com via AP, File) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; SEATTLE TIMES OUT; TV OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Environmentalists say Arctic drilling report goes too easy on oil industry

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Because oil industry representatives played the lead role shaping a sweeping report on Arctic drilling, critics say regulators should take its recommendations with a grain of salt.
Blue Planet: Seas of Life premieres Sunday Jan. 27 on the Discovery Channel.    HOUCHRON CAPTION  (01/24/2002):  Scarred beluga whales are caught in a small hole in the ice in the Arctic on Blue Planet. Twenty miles of ice lies between the whales and the open ocean, so they must use the hole to breathe for two months. The scars are from polar bears attacking the whales as they surface for air every 20 minutes.

Shell nabs critical animal disturbance permit for Arctic drilling venture

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The incidental harassment authorization, issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, further lowers the number of federal permits Shell Oil Co. must win before it is able to resume exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
Seattle's skyline provides the backdrop for the Transocean Polar Pioneer, while it is being loaded with supplies in the city's port in May 2015. Shell plans to use the rig this summer to bore an exploratory oil well at its Burger prospect in the Chukchi Sea, about 70 miles northwest of the Alaska coast. A separate drillship, the Noble Discoverer, is set to work on another Burger well at the same time. (Jennifer A. Dlouhy / The Houston Chronicle)

Shell drilling rig leaves Seattle for Alaska waters

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Tugboats are pulling a Shell-contracted Arctic drilling rig around protesters in Puget Sound, as the Polar Pioneer begins its long trek to Alaska.
A drilling rig under contract to Shell arrives in Port Angeles, Washington en route to Alaska's Chukchi Sea, where Shell hopes to drill this summer. (Daniella Beccaria/seattlepi.com via AP, File) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; SEATTLE TIMES OUT; TV OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Court rules against environmentalists in endorsing feds’ handling of Arctic spill response plans

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Environmentalists said the ruling demonstrates federal policies need an update to ensure oil spill response plans get tougher scrutiny.
(AP file photo/John McConnico)

Norway government loses in drive to expand Arctic oil boundary

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Even as a drop in oil prices makes Arctic exploration less attractive, Norway is betting on success in the Barents Sea, thought to hold more than 40 percent of its undiscovered resources. The Nordic country’s oil output, still western Europe’s biggest, has been more than halved since a 2000 record.
A drilling rig under contract to Shell arrives in Port Angeles, Washington en route to Alaska's Chukchi Sea, where Shell hopes to drill this summer. (Daniella Beccaria/seattlepi.com via AP, File) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; SEATTLE TIMES OUT; TV OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Oil industry takes aim at proposed Arctic drilling mandates

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The proposed requirements would unnecessarily shorten an already brief window for exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas while dramatically boosting the costs of those operations, dissuading companies from drilling in the region, industry representatives said in formal comments filed with the government.
U.S. Coast Guard image showing the Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig Kulluk aground off a small island near Kodiak Island on Jan. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)

Feds rap Shell for poor planning in botched tow of 2012 Arctic drilling rig

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The NTSB report comes at a pivotal time for Shell, which has asked federal regulators for permission to resume exploratory oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea as soon as July.