Image courtesy of Shell/Flickr.

Royal Dutch Shell has officially pulled its oil rigs out of the U.S. Arctic after suspending its exploration efforts in offshore Alaska last month.

According to Alaska Public Media, Shell’s Noble Discoverer and Polar Pioneer rigs arrived at Unalaska’s Dutch Harbor on Sunday to refuel and make crew changes.

The Noble Discoverer left the harbor on Monday but the Polar Pioneer remained anchored near Hog Island as of Tuesday.

The rigs were initially slated to be stored by Foss Maritime at the Port of Seattle, but the company told Alaska Public Media the rigs will not be returning to Seattle, where Shell faced protests before launching its campaign earlier this year.

Shell has not yet determined where the rigs will be stored.

Even before arriving in Seattle, Shell’s rigs were targeted by environmentalist protesting the company’s Arctic plans.

The Polar Pioneer was illegally boarded in April by a group of Greenpeace activists as the rig made its way up to Seattle from Hawaii.

The rig was met with several other protests during its Seattle stay.

A group of protesters calling themselves the “Raging Grannies” were arrested in June for blocking entrances into the Port of Seattle in an effort to delay the rig’s deployment.

A week later, Seattle city councilman Mike O’Brien was among two dozen protesters arrested in June by the U.S. Coast Guard after they also attempted to block the Polar Pioneer from leaving the Port of Seattle.

City officials also pushed back against the oil giant’s presence.

Seattle mayor Ed Murray said in May that the city’s port had to apply for a new land-use permit if Shell wanted to house part of its Arctic fleet there, a process that could take weeks or even months.

After years of legal battles, Shell said late last month that it will abandon its offshore Alaska exploration campaign after a disappointing find.

The company said it safely drilled its Burger J well in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea to a total depth of 6,800 feet this summer in a basin that “demonstrates many of the key attributes of a major petroleum basin.”

Shell found indications of oil and gas in the Burger J well, but those indications were not sufficient to warrant further exploration in the Burger prospect.

The well was sealed and abandoned.

The Burger J well is 150 miles from Barrow, Alaska, in about 150 feet of water.

The company said it expects to take financial charges tied to the campaign and it will provide further updates about potential charges in its third quarter results.

The balance sheet carrying value of Shell’s Alaska position is $3 billion, with a further $1.1 billion of future contractual commitments.

Shell has spent about $7 billion on its Arctic efforts.

The company added it will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the “foreseeable future.”


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