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Kulluk Remains Stable as Analysis Continues

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The Kulluk drilling rig, which ran aground Alaska Dec. 31 after breaking free from a towing vessel, remains stable as the engineering analysis continues, according to a Wednesday statement from Unified Command.

The Kulluk's openings on the windows and hatches have been secured. In some cases, temporary steel structures have been added to close the openings to make the vessel weather and watertight for potential tow operations. A few openings have been left open to allow ongoing operations.

Unified Command has received confirmation from naval architects that the damage sustained by the grounding poses no threat to the stability or integrity of the rig while it is anchored in Kiliuda Bay.

"The next step is an analysis of this data to determine the best course of action to relocate the Kulluk for permanent repairs," Unified Command commented in a statement.

Unified Command would not speculate on this next step until Det Norske Veritas and the U.S. Coast Guard, both members of the Unified Command, give their recommendations for safely relocating the rig.

Tow equipment has been secured and is currently in Kodiak, Alaska.

Members of the Unified Command initially formed to regain control of the Kulluk – and who later recovered and towed the rig to safe harbor after it ran aground – also include Shell, the State of Alaska, and Smit Salvage.

The Unified Command is working with the Old Harbor Native Corporation to develop a plan to clean up life boat debris from the shoreline and surrounding area.

Earlier this month, the Coast Guard reported it would launch a formal marine casualty investigation into the Shell-operated Kulluk's grounding on the southeast shore of Sitkalidak Island, Alaska.

Rough weather conditions caused the Kulluk to break loose from the MV Aiviq Dec. 28 as the rig was being towed to Seattle for repairs. These weather conditions hampered efforts by the Coast Guard and other responders to regain control of the rig. The Kulluk was towed to Kiliuda Bay, Alaska to undergo damage assessment.

The Kulluk, which was designed and constructed for drilling in Arctic waters, is one of two rigs Shell used in its 2012 drilling operations offshore Alaska.

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at


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