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Coast Guard investigators on Thursday rapped Shell Oil Co. and its contractors for failing to heed the dangers of towing a drilling rig across stormy Alaska waters in late 2012 — a voyage that ended when it ran aground on New Year’s Eve.
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.
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.
Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig ran aground Monday night near Alaska’s Kodiak Island after a five-day fight to tow the vessel through a fierce storm and 70-mph winds.
Facing 63-mph winds and 28-foot seas on Monday, two tugboats were towing Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig to safe harbor to weather the fierce storm in the Gulf of Alaska.