Timeline of Shell Blunders in Alaska

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


2012-06-28 17:07:46

Fleet Fails Air Pollution Test

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

2012-07-01 17:07:46

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.

2012-07-14 00:00:00

Ship drifts out of control

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

2012-08-30 00:00:00

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.

2012-09-09 00:00:00

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.

2012-09-15 00:00:00

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.

2012-10-31 00:00:00

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.

2012-11-16 00:00:00

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.

2012-11-29 00:00:00

More Pollution Problems

Coast Guard detains Noble Discoverer in Seward for serious problems with the ship’s safety and pollutant discharge systems.

2012-12-31 00:00:00

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

2013-01-04 00:00:00

Criminal Investigation Launched

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

2013-02-22 00:00:00

US Coast Guard finds violations on Kulluk

The Coast Guard found 16 serious safety and environmental violations on a Shell drilling rig used in the Arctic waters off Alaska. They have turned over the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice.

2013-02-27 00:00:00

Shell Announces "Pause" in Arctic Drilling

Shell announced that it will "pause" all drilling operations for 2013 in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas to prepare equipment and plans for a resumption of activity at a later stage. The Noble Discoverer and Kulluk rigs are shipped to Asia for major repairs.

2013-10-31 00:00:00

Shell Eyes Return to Arctic in 2014

Shell announces plans to drill in the Chukchi Sea in 2014 but says its scaled-back approach will not include the Beaufort Sea. The company also says the damaged Kulluk rig might be scrapped, but could be replaced with a rig owned by Transocean, the contractor that operated the Deepwater Horizon.

2014-01-31 00:00:00

Shell Abandons 2014 Drilling Plans

Citing a steep drop in quarterly profits, and a court decision that left the legality of the company’s federal leases in doubt, Shell’s new CEO, Ben van Beurden, announces that the company will not drill in the Arctic Ocean during 2014, and indicates the decision might become permanent.

2014-04-03 17:07:46

Coast Guard Blames Reckless Behavior For Rig's Grounding

The U.S. Coast Guard issues a report on its investigation of the December 2012 grounding of the Kulluk drill rig, and blames Shell for towing the rig into a storm, in part to dodge taxes in Alaska. The report cites numerous problems with the operation, and Rear Admiral Joseph A. Servidio writes that he is “most troubled by the significant number and nature of the potential violations of law and regulations.”

2014-12-08 17:07:46

Shell’s Contractor Admits Felonies in Alaska

Noble Drilling LLC admits keeping false and incomplete records, and willingly failing to notify the U.S. Coast Guard of hazardous conditions aboard the drill ship Noble Discoverer. Noble agrees to $12.2 million in penalties and will be on probation for four years.

2015-07-03 17:07:46

Shell Tears Hole in Icebreaker On its Way to the Arctic

After three years away, Shell returns to Alaska to drill in the Chukchi Sea, but tears a meter-long hole in the hull of its MSV Fennica icebreaker shortly after it leaves Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Highlighting the dangers of northern seas, the U.S. Coast Guard says the Fennica was in waters that haven’t been charted since 1935, and that less than 1 percent of all American Arctic waters have been surveyed with modern technology.

2015-09-28 17:07:46

Shell Halts Drilling

Shell halts all drilling in Alaskan Arctic for "the foreseeable future."

Timeline of Shell Blunders in Alaska

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