Timeline of Shell Blunders in Alaska

Shell has started drilling explorations in the Arctic. Explore how the first year of operations has gone.


Drilling Rig Drifts and Runs Aground

Kulluk drill rig runs aground near Kodiak Island, Alaska, after multiple failures with towing operations and drifts out of control during a winter cyclone. Prior to the grounding, all four engines on Shell’s contractor’s brand new tug, the Aiviq, fail

Drilling Starts, Then Stops

Shell begins preparatory drilling in Chukchi Sea, then stops a day later as a 12-by-30-mile ice floe moves toward drill site.

Fleet Fails Air Pollution Test

Drilling fleet fails to meet air pollution control standards. Shell asks for an exception to the rules.

Shell Will "Encounter" Spills

Shell admits it will not “recover” 90 percent of any oil it spills in the Arctic Ocean, as the company had claimed, but only “encounter” it.

Ship drifts out of control

Noble Discoverer drill ship slips anchor and drifts out of control in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

Containment Dome Crushed

During sea trials, Shell’s oil-containment dome is “crushed like a beer can” when lowered into Washington state’s Puget Sound. As a result, Shell never gets final approval to drill into oil-bearing zones in the Arctic Ocean.

Drilling Rig Catches Fire

Dutch Harbor residents hear and feel a loud explosion as the Noble Discoverer’s engine backfires and ignites a fire in one of the vessel’s stacks.

Criminal Investigation Launched

CBS News reports the U.S. Coast Guard has launched a criminal investigation into Noble Discoverer’s safety problems.

Drilling Delayed

Shell obtains permission for only limited preparatory drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Because of delayed U.S. Coast Guard certification of its refurbished, 36-year-old spill-response barge, the Arctic Challenger, Shell is not allowed to drill for oil in 2012.

More Delays...

Shell ceases drilling in Chukchi Sea, then experiences numerous delays evacuating crews and unmooring vessels to remove fleet from Arctic Ocean after drilling season. Vessels are in place as ice begins to form.

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