Shell's Arctic Icebreaker Returns To Alaska

Wednesday, August 05 2015

The Fennica approaching the Delta Western Fuel dock in Alaska's Dutch Harbor on Tuesday. KUCB/John Ryan photo.
8/6/2015 Update: The Fennica left Dutch Harbor for the Arctic Ocean Thursday afternoon.
Shell's Fennica icebreaker has returned to Alaska. It docked at Dutch Harbor Tuesday evening after enduring repairs and protests in Portland, Oregon. 

Shell began drilling the top of a well in the Chukchi Sea last week, but it does not have federal permission from the U.S. Interior Department to drill into oil-bearing rocks unless the Fennica is on site. 

Shell's bright yellow well-capping stack sits on the stern of the Fennica. It's to be used in case a well blows out and other splll-prevention methods fail.

"Once the Fennica is in theater [in the vicinity of the Chukchi Sea drill sites], then we'll engage in discussions with the regulator about that permit," Shell spokeswoman Megan Baldino said.

The drill sites are more than 1,000 miles north of Dutch Harbor, the nearest deepwater port.

The Fennica went to Portland's Vigor shipyard after tearing a three-foot gash in its hull on an uncharted rock in Alaska's Dutch Harbor on July 3. The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the incident. 

Greenpeace activists suspended from a bridge across Portland's Willamette River and climate-change activists paddling kayaks in the river managed to delay the Fennica's departure from the shipyard by about 36 hours.

Shell has until the last week of September to finish its drilling for this year.

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