U.S. faults Shell's management in Alaska

March 15, 2013 at 7:23 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 15 (UPI) -- Oil company Shell didn't have the management strength needed to ensure drilling in the arctic waters off Alaska was safe, the U.S. government said.

The U.S. Interior Department in January ordered a review of the 2012 drilling program enacted by Shell in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

The review focused on problems with the Arctic Challenger spill containment vessel and drill ships Noble Discovery and Kulluk. Shell equipment issues last year and the New Years Eve grounding of Kulluk off Alaska raised concerns about the safety of arctic exploration.

The Interior Department said Shell went ahead with plans last year even though it lacked key components of its drilling program. The report added there were weaknesses in the way Shell managed contractors, which the government said led to many of the company's problems.

"Working in the arctic requires thorough advance planning and preparation, rigorous management focus, a close watch over contractors and reliance on experienced, specialized operators who are familiar with the uniquely challenging conditions of the Alaskan offshore," Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Tommy Beaudreau said in a statement.

The Interior Department recommended that Shell completes a third-party audit of its management system.

Shell in February announced it was suspending its exploration campaign for 2013 to ensure its equipment and personnel are ready to proceed safely.

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