Shell safety system problems plague Arctic plans

Containment system problems behind delays in Shell offshore Arctic drilling delays

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Problems with a safety system that Shell Oil volunteered to put into place for drilling off the coast of Alaska are complicating the company's quest to reach oil-bearing rock during the short open water drilling season this year.

Royal Dutch Shell LLC announced Monday that a containment dome being tested off the coast of Bellingham, Wash., was damaged Saturday night in its final test.

Time needed to repair the damage, on top of delays from ice and waiting for the Alaska Natives' whaling season to end, figured into a decision to cancel plans to complete exploratory wells this year in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith did not immediately have details as to how the dome was damaged.

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