BSEE sends inspectors aboard Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs

Two Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) inspector carried out conducted inspections of Shell’s drillship Noble Discoverer and the semi-submersible drilling rig Transocean Polar Pioneer in Dutch Harbor, Alaska July 7-12.

Subject to regulatory approvals, Shell will use the rigs for its drilling campaign in the Chukchi Sea, offshore Alaska, during the 2015 summer season.

While onboard the vessels, BSEE inspectors reviewed drilling equipment, assessed overall readiness, and tested key safety devices. They also verified BOEM lease stipulations, environmental mitigation measures, and air quality equipment, as well as Environmental Protection Agency National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit requirements.

Capping stack ok

Additionally, BSEE Alaska Region Director Mark Fesmire conducted a re-inspection of the capping stack onboard the ice management vessel Fennica, which was damaged July 3 while departing Dutch Harbor. The Fennica currently carries the capping stack, which is a key piece of well control equipment used to contain the flow of oil in the unlikely event of a blowout, should all primary and backup blowout prevention equipment fail. Although the Fennica’s damage requires that it be returned to dry-dock for repairs in Portland, Ore., BSEE personnel verified the capping stack was not damaged during the incident.

“These inspections are part of BSEE’s commitment to safe and responsible offshore energy exploration and development. If drilling operations are permitted and begin, BSEE inspectors will be deployed on drilling rigs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing continuous oversight and monitoring once drilling operations commence,” the BSEE said in a statement.

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