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Coast Guard: Kulluk report to be public in 2014

Posted: August 14, 2013 - 8:40pm  |  Updated: August 15, 2013 - 12:06am

ANCHORAGE — A Coast Guard report on the grounding of a Royal Dutch Shell PLC drill vessel likely will not be made public until early 2014, according to a spokesman for the agency.

The Coast Guard in May conducted nine days of hearings in Anchorage that reviewed the grounding of the Kulluk off a small Alaska island. Representatives of Shell, rig operator Noble Corp., and tow vessel operator Edison Chouest Offshore were among the witnesses.

Cmdr. Joshua McTaggart of the Coast Guard Investigations National Center of Expertise in Louisiana has been granted a six-week extension to complete a report from the hearings, Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow told the Anchorage Daily News.

The new deadline is Aug. 19, Wadlow said. Ostebo will review the report, make recommendation and forward the document to Coast Guard headquarters.

“Once Coast Guard headquarters completes their review they will issue the final report, which will be publicly available. Right now it is estimated that the final report will be released sometime early next year,” Wadlow said Monday by email.

Shell and other private parties will not review the report before it’s released to the public.

“Coast Guard policy prohibits the release of information regarding ongoing investigations,” Wadlow said.

The Kulluk is a 266-foot diameter drilling barge built in 1983. Shell bought the vessel in 2005.

It has a funnel-shape, reinforced steel hull designed to operate in ice. The vessel’s most prominent feature is a 160-foot derrick centered in the round vessel.

The vessel during the 2012 open water season performed top hole work, a preliminary step in exploratory drilling, at a prospect in the Beaufort Sea.

The Kulluk after the drilling season was towed to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands.

In December, the vessel began the next planned leg to a Seattle shipyard but ran into rough Gulf of Alaska water. The Kulluk broke from its towing vessel, the 360-foot anchor handler Aiviq. After four days of futile attempted to keep the barge reattached to the Aiviq or other tugs, the Kulluk ran aground New Year’s Eve in shallow water off Sitkalidak Island, near Kodiak Island.

It was refloated Jan. 6 but damage to the rig played a role in Shell’s decision not to drill in Arctic waters in 2013.

The Kulluk is undergoing repairs at a Singapore shipyard.

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