Based on EPA’s inspections and Shell’s excess emission reports, the federal agency documented numerous air permit violations for Shell’s Discoverer and Kulluk drill ship fleets, during the approximately two months the vessels operated during the 2012 drilling season.
EPA issued the Clean Air Act Outer Continental Shelf permits for Shell’s operations in early 2012. The permits set emission limits, pollution control requirements, and monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements on the vessels and their support fleets of icebreakers, spill response vessels, and supply ships.
On New Year’s Eve, the Kulluk ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska, while being towed to Seattle for maintenance. In January, EPA issued violation notices for Shell’s Discoverer and Kulluk air permits. Shell did not resume drilling in the Arctic Ocean in 2013.
In September last year, Shell halted its Arctic drilling program for 2012 after a containment dome to cap potential spills was damaged. The time needed to repair the dome meant that Shell didn’t have enough time to deep-drill off Alaska in 2012.
Shell has invested $4.5 billion in offshore leases and equipment and fought at least 50 lawsuits from environmental groups opposing the first Arctic wells in about 20 years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
In May, Shell finalized plans for its Gulf of Mexico oil and gas project, expected to be the world’s deepest production facility.