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Shell safety system problems plague Arctic plans

Associated Press Modified: September 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm •  Published: September 17, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Problems with a safety system that Shell Oil volunteered to put into place for drilling off the coast of Alaska are complicating the company's quest to reach oil-bearing rock during the short open water drilling season this year.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC announced Monday that a containment dome being tested off the coast of Bellingham, Wash., was damaged Saturday night in its final test.

Time needed to repair the damage, on top of delays from ice and waiting for the Alaska Natives' whaling season to end, figured into a decision to cancel plans to complete exploratory wells this year in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith didn't immediately have details on how the dome was damaged.


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