Image courtesy of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

An inspection by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) found that a capping stack being hauled by Shell’s Fennica vessel is in working order after a hole was discovered in the ship’s hull.

BSEE Alaska Region Director Mark Fesmire conducted a re-inspection of the capping stack onboard the ice management vessel Fennica and found no damage.

Fennica was damaged on July 3 as it was departing from Dutch Harbor while hauling the capping stack, a piece of equipment used to contain well blowouts if other primary and backup equipment fails.

Workers aboard the vessel discovered a 39 inch long and half an inch wide gash in the ship’s ballast tank.

Shell said the damage was most likely caused by an uncharted shoal.

The company confirmed last week that the vessel was on its way to a dry dock in Portland for repairs.

“Although the Fennica’s damage requires that it be returned to dry-dock for repairs in Portland, Oregon, BSEE personnel verified the capping stack was not damaged during the incident,” the agency said.

A Shell spokesman told Reuters last week the repairs are not expected to delay the company’s plans to kick off its long awaited offshore Alaska campaign later this month.

The company added that it can move ahead with its drilling plans as the vessel is being repaired as long as drilling does not extend into the undersea zone.

Two BSEE employees also conducted inspections of the Noble Discoverer and the semi-submersible drilling unit Transocean Polar Pioneer in Dutch Harbor, Alaska from July 7 to 12.

The inspectors reviewed drilling equipment, assessed overall readiness and tested key safety devices.

They also verified Bureau of Ocean Energy Management lease stipulations, environmental mitigation measures and air quality equipment, as well as Environmental Protection Agency national pollutant discharge elimination system permit requirements.


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