The Fennica ice management vessel. Image courtesy of Royal Dutch Shell/Flickr.

The Shell ice management vessel Fennica arrived back in Alaska this week after being forced to dry-dock in Portland, Oregon for repairs last month.

The vessel arrived in Dutch Harbor on Tuesday evening after a hull breach was repaired, KUCB said.

Fennica is hauling a capping stack, a key piece of emergency equipment that must be at Shell’s offshore Alaska site before the company can drill into oil bearing zones.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has conditionally approved two permits for Shell to conduct limited exploratory drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea.

However, the BSEE said that Shell cannot drill into oil bearing zones until required emergency blowout equipment arrives in the region.

The permits currently limit Shell to drilling only the top sections of wells.

According to KUCB, Shell began drilling operations for the top of a well in the Chukchi Sea last week.

“Once the Fennica is in theater, then we’ll engage in discussions with the regulator about that permit,” Shell spokeswoman Megan Baldino told the radio station.

Fennica was damaged on July 3 as it was departing from Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

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 capping stack was not damaged during the incident.

About a dozen Greenpeace protestors suspended themselves from a bridge in Portland, Oregon last week in attempt to block the vessel from heading back to Alaska.

Shell’s exploration plan calls for up to six wells to be drilled at the Burger Prospect in water depths of 140 feet about 70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright.


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