Do global energy companies have sufficient safety protocols
in place to deal with the challenges of Arctic projects?
The answer, according to hundreds of votes cast in a recent
Hydrocarbon Processing industry
poll, is an old cliché: it depends.
Nearly half (48%) of readers surveyed believe practices vary
enough throughout the industry that a single standard has not
been adopted, making it dependent on the company in question.
Another 28% said they believed the industry does have
sufficient safety protocols, while 25% said it does not.
The topic became newsworthy after a series of recent incidents involving
Shell. That company, for its part, is postponing its planned
summer drilling in the Arctic Ocean after a troubled 2012
drilling season marred by bad weather, mechanical failures and
Shell had been widely expected to push back its contentious,
multi-billion-dollar Arctic program after it announced that its
rigs needed to be repaired and analysts said replacements would
be hard to find.
We've made progress in Alaska, but this is a long-term
program that we are pursuing in a safe and measured way,
said Shell president Marvin Odum.
The Kulluk, a drilling ship owned by Shell and operated by
Noble Corp., ran aground on an uninhabited island about 300
miles southwest of Anchorage on Jan. 1 after ships towing it to
Seattle for the winter lost control of the rig during a storm.
It suffered damage to the hull and electrical systems.
The Noble Discoverer drill ship, which Shell was leasing,
had an engine fire in December when it was on its way to
Seward, Alaska, prompting a US Coast Guard inspection. It will
need to have work done on its propulsion system in dry dock as
well, according to the company.
Investors and government officials are closely watching
Shell's Arctic plans. The company has spent nearly $5 billion
on permits, personnel and equipment over the past six years to
assure regulators and native Alaskans that the first drilling
in the Arctic Ocean in more than a decade would be safe and environmentally benign.
The Arctic drilling controversy comes just as BP, Transocean
and Halliburton are being challenged over their roles in the
2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of
To see more details on this poll as well as access prior
Hydrocarbon Processing poll results,
(Editors note: Polls are where we at Hydrocarbon Processing gather industry
sentiment on significant issues of the day. Visit the HP home
page to weigh in on our latest poll regarding the Deepwater Horizon
-- Additional reporting by Dow Jones