ANCHORAGE, Alaska –Almost as soon as Shell began to drill in the Chukchi Sea offshore Alaska, it moved off location to avoid sea ice. The Noble Discoverer drillship spudded the Burger A prospect, says UPI, and then moved off the well to avoid sea ice that might move into the area.
"Once the ice moves on, the Noble Discoverer will re-connect to anchors and continue drilling," the company said in a statement reported by UPI. "Shell uses a combination of satellite images, radar and on-site reconnaissance to monitor ice movement."
Shell requested an extension of the drilling season beyond Sept. 24 based on the time it says would be required to respond in the event of an oil spill.
The Burger A well marks thefirst offshore US Arctic access in 20 years by an oil operator. The Noble Discoverer had begun the tophole 1,400-ft pilot well and a 20-by-40-ft hole right in the seabed to house the blow-out preventer.
Drilling beyond this point depends not only on the ice situation, but also on permission from the US Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement based on its ongoing tests of the spill containment system.