Markey Questions Shell Oil, Coast Guard on Arctic Rig Accident

WASHINGTON (January 3, 2013) – Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), today wrote to Shell Oil Company and the United States Coast Guard requesting information on the ongoing incident with Shell’s oil rig that has run aground in Alaska. Rep. Markey, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, which oversees oil drilling, asks in the letters for more information on Shell’s plans to address such an accident and the ability of Shell to drill safely offshore in severe weather conditions in the Arctic.

“This is just the most recent incident in Shell’s attempt to drill offshore in the Arctic and it raises serious questions about the company’s ability to conduct these operations safely and in a way that protects the environment,” writes Rep. Markey.

In the letters to Shell and the Coast Guard, Rep. Markey, the Ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, asks for additional information on Shell’s drill ship running aground, including:

-- Any plans Shell had developed or submitted to deal with the loss of control of a drill ship, following an incident in July where a different Shell rig slipped its anchor and drifted near shore.

-- The ability to effectively and quickly respond to a similar incident had it occurred in a more remote location closer to the site of drilling operations.

-- Shell’s plans to deal with severe Arctic weather conditions at the drill site or in transit.

-- Steps that Shell will take to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Last month, Rep. Markey wrote the Interior Department to raise concerns about Shell’s ability to drill safely in the region following the company’s failed test of a containment dome it planned to use offshore in the Arctic.