Shell's arctic spill barge gets approval

Oct. 15, 2012 at 9:19 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Energy company Shell announced it received certification from the U.S. Coast Guard for its oil-spill containment vessel for use offshore Alaska.

Shell said its Arctic Challenger containment barge was given the necessary permits, which means its safety assets will be in place for the 2013 drilling season.

Earlier this year, the company said it was abandoning certain aspects of its arctic program offshore Alaska because of encroaching sea ice and problems with the containment vessel meant to respond to any potential spill in the Chukchi Sea.

"We will continue to make the most of the time that remains in the 2012 open water season by drilling top hole sections on our prospects in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas," said Pete Slaiby, vice president for Shell's Alaska division, in a statement.

Shell, under the terms of a permit issued in September by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, started groundwork for exploration of the Beaufort Sea.

Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace had described Shell's delays offshore Alaska as a victory. Groups like Greenpeace say oil and natural gas exploration in arctic waters could cause irreparable harm.

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