Testimony reveals Kulluk needed more tow vessels

May 22, 2013

Testimony before the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that the Kulluk should have had more than one tow vessel when Shell attempted to transport it across the Gulf of Alaska.

U.S. Coast Guard

Witness testimony today by Noble’s Offshore Installation Manager Todd Case as he was questioned by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that the Kulluk drill rig -- which Shell attempted to tow across the Gulf of Alaska with a single tow vessel before it broke loose and ran aground last New Year’s Eve -- should have had multiple tow vessels for safe transport.

Case was aboard the Kulluk when it went adrift and ran aground on a small island south of Kodiak.

In response to Case’s testimony, licensed engineer Lois Epstein, who is the Arctic program director for The Wilderness Society, released the following statement:

“What Case’s testimony demonstrated is that the best-laid plans for Arctic Ocean drilling and transportation can be inadequate for Alaska conditions. This is a warning to industry and the Obama administration that the risks of Arctic Ocean drilling are enormous and unprecedented. With shale oil increasing production elsewhere in the United States, there’s no valid reason to proceed with risky Arctic Ocean drilling at this time.”