Kulluk, One of Shell's Oil Rigs, Goes Haywire in Alaska

The rig has 139,000 gallons of fuel on board, sparks major environmental concerns

The news just broke that, this past Monday, one of Shell's oil rigs somehow broke free from a tow ship and set out to explore the Gulf of Alaska all by itself. It eventually grounded itself on the south-east coast of Sitkalidak Island.

This might not have been such a big issue if it were not for the fact that the Kulluk oil platform was housing roughly 139,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 12,000 gallons of lubricating oil and hydraulic fluid at the time of its going haywire.

In other words, said oil rig could have caused significant environmental damage in case of an accidental spill.

Seeing how the Kulluk only got separated from the tow ship as a result of stormy weather, it need not come as a surprise that several environmentalists are now (once again) questioning Royal Dutch Shell's abilities to carry out oil exploration and oil drilling in offshore locations.

“In another example of why drilling for oil in the Arctic is such a monumentally bad idea, Shell’s drilling rig, the Kulluk, has run aground off the island of Sitkalidak, near Kodiak in Alaska,” reads Greenpeace's account of this incident.

“The ancient rig was being towed back to harbour after a spectacularly unsuccessful summer drilling season when it ran into serious trouble and hit the shore,” said organization goes on to explain.

For the time being, both Shell and the US Coast Guard are doing everything in their power to regain control of the situation, and Capt. Paul Mehler, the federal on-scene coordinator, wished to reassure people that the oil rig was stable.

“The results are showing us that the Kulluk is sound. No sign of breach of hull, no sign of release of any product,” he said.

Meanwhile, environmentalists and ordinary folks are hoping that a solution to this problem will be found before things get a chance to turn from bad into worse.

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