UNITED KINGDOM ? Royal Dutch Shell announced yesterday that after a successfully completed series of tests of the first-ever Arctic Containment System, during a final test, the containment dome aboard the Arctic Challenger barge was damaged.
The company notes on its website that it will be ?some days? to repair and fully assess dome readiness: ?We are disappointed that the dome has not yet met our stringent acceptance standards; but, as we have said all along, we will not conduct any operation until we are satisfied that we are fully prepared to do it safely.?
The time required to repair the dome, along with steps taken to protect local whaling operations and to ensure the safety of operations from ice floe movement, have led Shell to revise its plans for the 2012-2013 exploration program. Shell will forgo drilling into hydrocarbon zones this year. Instead, it will begin as many wells (top holes) as it can this season. The top portion of the wells drilled in the days and weeks ahead will be safely capped and temporarily abandoned this year, in accordance with regulatory requirements.
?We look forward to the final receipt of our drilling permits for the multi-year exploration program upon the successful testing and deployment of the Arctic Containment System,? notes Shell.
Also, in the coming days, Shell is expected to begin exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea. These operations will follow the conclusion of the fall whale hunt and the anticipated receipt of a top-hole-drilling permit.
?We have tested and assembled drill ships and support vessels, trained personnel, and acquired numerous final approved plans and permits. This exploration program remains critically important to America?s energy needs, to the economy and jobs in Alaska and to Shell.?