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Shell’s Kulluk oil drilling rig left Dutch Harbor in December to avoid the prospect of millions in taxes, a Shell official revealed Saturday in testimony to a Coast Guard investigation panel.
A top Democratic lawmaker is questioning whether financial concerns drove Shell to send the Kulluk drilling rig on its ill-fated two-week trek across the predictably stormy Gulf of Alaska in late December.
The grounding of Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig amid a fierce storm in the Gulf of Alaska raised the specter of a fuel spill in the region and provided fresh fodder to drilling foes who insist Arctic oil exploration is too risky to allow. The episode also cast doubt on whether Shell Oil Co. will be able to resume its hunt for Arctic oil this year.