Noble In $12.2M Settlement With DOJ Over Alaska Drilling


HOUSTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Drilling contractor Noble Corporation PLC on Monday said it paid $12.2 million to settle felony charges by the U.S. Department of Justice related to safety, environmental and record keeping violations on vessels in Arctic waters off Alaska in 2012.

During 2012, the Noble Discoverer drillship experienced numerous problems with its main propulsion system, including its main engine, resulting in engine shut-downs, equipment failures, and unsafe conditions, according to prosecutors.

Noble acknowledges that it failed to report any of these hazardous conditions to the U.S. Coast Guard, according to DOJ.

The Noble Discoverer was contracted by Royal Dutch Shell PLC to work on Shell leases in the remote Chukchi Sea off northwestern Alaska.

Charges also relate to Noble's operation of the Shell-owned drilling unit Kulluk, which ran aground in December 2012 after work in the Beaufort Sea. Noble failed to keep proper records on both vessels, prosecutors said.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Noble will plead guilty to eight felony offenses, pay $8.2 million in fines and $4 million in community service payments.

The London-based company is also required to implement a comprehensive environmental compliance plan, and will be placed on probation for four years.

A spokesman for Noble said the company has made significant improvements to the Noble Discoverer since it entered the shipyard in 2013.

(Reporting by Anna Driver; Editing by Marguerita Choy)


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