Begich Tours Kulluk in Seattle

Shell’s ice-class drilling rig prepares for summer in Beaufort Sea

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today got a first-hand look at the Kulluk Conical Drilling Unit as it is getting ready for work this summer in the Beaufort Sea.

The Kulluk is owned by Shell and is one of the few ice-class drilling rigs in the world. Last July it was moved from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to the VIGOR shipyard in Seattle for maintenance and modifications to get ready of the 2012 offshore drilling season in Alaska’s Arctic.

“It’s impressive to see this rig first-hand and know it will be hard at work in the Beaufort this summer,” Begich said. “The focus this season is on safety. I am confident Shell will do this right, and it’s clear they have tools to do just that.”

Shell plans to start moving the Kulluk toward the Arctic in mid-June. After clearing all hurdles and receiving its final permit, the rig will be used to drill up to two wells in the Beaufort this summer. The rig has previously been used for offshore drilling in the Canadian Beaufort Sea.

Sen. Begich has been a major proponent of domestic oil and gas production since his election to the Senate in 2008. He has been a relentless advocate for oil and gas development in Alaska’s Arctic offshore, successfully pushing the Obama Administration to remove red tape and approve key permits so activity can get underway this summer. Oil and gas development in Alaska’s Arctic offshore is estimated to create more than 50,000 jobs nationally over several decades.

This is a press release from the office of Senator Mark Begich 25 May 2012