A damaged Shell ice breaking vessel is heading to Portland for repairs after workers discovered a breach in the vessel’s hull last week.

A Shell spokesman told Reuters 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 forward with its drilling plans as the vessel is being repaired as long as drilling does not extend into the undersea zone.

Shell plans to construct well foundations and complete other preparations before drilling into the undersea zone.

“We do not anticipate any impact on our season as we don’t expect to require the vessel until August,” a Shell spokesman told the news agency.

Last week, the crew aboard the Fennica ice breaking vessel discovered a leak in the ship’s ballast tank as it was departing the channel in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

The gash was reportedly 39 inch long and half an inch wide.

Shell told Reuters the vessel was most likely damaged by an uncharted shoal.

The Fennica was hauling a capping stack when the breach was spotted.

According to Shell, the Fennica is the primary ice management vessel in support of the Noble Discoverer drilling rig that is set to explore the Chukchi Sea.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Interior Department said that Shell can not simultaneously drill two wells in offshore Alaska as the company had initially planned after complaints from several environmentalist groups.

The Interior Department found that Shell’s exploration plan did not adhere to a 2013 Fish and Wildlife Service rule that prohibits companies from simultaneously drilling wells within 15 miles of each other.

The company can still drill one well at a time, although it is unclear how that move would affect the company’s plans to explore Alaska’s offshore Burger Prospect.

Shell must still receive two minor permits from the Department of Interior before spinning its drill, Reuters added.


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