The Arctic Challenger left Puget Sound's Bellingham Bay Wednesday night and arrived at a deep-water anchorage near Anacortes, Wash., Thursday morning. The barge is part of Shell Oil’s fleet of vessels aimed at exploring the Arctic Ocean for oil.
The Arctic Challenger’s oil-spill containment system failed its first field test off Anacortes in September. Since then, Shell has rebuilt a 20-foot oil-containment dome that was “crushed like a beer can” in the first test.
U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement spokesman Nicholas Pardi said Shell has not scheduled an official test of the rebuilt dome. He speculated that Shell may be testing the oil-spill system on its own before showing it to federal regulators.
Shell needs federal approval of the oil-spill system before it can drill for oil in the Arctic.
Shell representatives Curtis Smith in Anchorage and Kelly op de Weegh in Houston did not respond to KUOW’s requests for information.