Grounded Drilling Rig Remains Stable In Alaska

Jan 3, 2013

A grounded oil drilling rig remains in stable shape off the coast of Alaska Wednesday. Shell Oil’s Kulluk ran aground on New Year’s Eve on an island in the Gulf of Alaska. The vessel hasn’t spilled any oil so far, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

An Alaskan oil drilling rig.
Credit Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg / U.S. Coast Guard

But the agency’s Allen Wein says crews are keeping a close eye on the drilling rig.

Wein: “We do have response resources that have been mobilized and they are ready to be deployed as soon as possible, as soon as allowable, by weather conditions also.”

The Kulluk was being towed from the town of Unalaska back to Seattle when its tug experienced engine problems. The Coast Guard responded, but a series of tow lines snapped and the Kulluk went aground. The drilling rig carries 136,000 gallons of diesel fuel and more than 10,000 gallons of various lubes and oils.

Shell says the Kulluk’s fuel tanks are encased in heavy steel and located at the center of the rig. Investigators say it may take weeks or months to determine the sequence of mishaps that led to the grounding.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio