On December 11, Noble Drilling, Shell’s sub-contractor pleaded guilty to eight felony charges relating to environmental and safety violations on board the vessels Noble Discoverer and Kulluk in the Alaskan Arctic in 2012.
In addition to the offenses which include unsafe operating procedures Noble Inc. also tried to cover-up their illegal actions. According to the court ruling, Noble, “actively took steps to conceal its use of illegal [systems]”, and “knowingly made false entries” concealing problems from the authorities. Noble also admitted to illegally discharging bilge water from the Discoverer.
Noble will pay a $12.2m fine and the company has been placed on probation for four years and must upgrade all of its plans to meet safety and environmental protection requirements.
This news comes as Shell prepares to drill in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea next summer.
Shell has scrapped the Kulluk but the replacement called the Polar Pioneer may be worse as it is owned by Transocean, the same company that was behind the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The US Supreme Court recently denied BP’s request to reduce its liability for the disaster.
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