No fuel sheen or sign that ship hull is breached

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 2, 2013 at 12:01 am •  Published: January 1, 2013
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The drilling rig's difficulties go back to Thursday when it separated from a towing vessel south of Kodiak Island as it was being towed to Seattle for maintenance. The rig grounded Monday night on a sand and gravel shore off the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island, an uninhabited island in the Gulf of Alaska.

Sean Churchfield, operations manager for Shell Alaska, said once the situation is under control an investigation will be conducted into the cause. He did not know whether the findings would be made public. The Coast Guard said it also would be investigating and its findings would be public.

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who is the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, issued a statement Tuesday expressing his concerns about the Kulluk situation.

"Oil companies keep saying they can conquer the Arctic, but the Arctic keeps disagreeing with the oil companies," Markey said. "Drilling expansion could prove disastrous for this sensitive environment."

The Kulluk was being towed Monday by a 360-foot anchor handler, the Aiviq, and a tugboat, the Alert. The vessels were moving north along Kodiak Island, trying to escape the worst of the storm. About 4:15 p.m., the drill ship separated from the Aiviq about 10 to 15 miles off shore. The tug boat crew guided the drill ship to a place where it would cause the least environmental damage and cut it loose. It grounded at about 9 p.m.

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Associated Press staff writers Dan Joling in Anchorage and Donna Blankinship in Seattle contributed to this story.


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