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caption: The Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer arrives off Port Angeles early Friday aboard the carrier Blue Marlin. 
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The Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer arrives off Port Angeles early Friday aboard the carrier Blue Marlin.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Shell Oil Arctic Drilling Rig Arrives Off Port Angeles

A Shell Oil drilling rig at the center of environmental protests about oil exploration in the Arctic arrived off Port Angeles at dawn Friday on a trip that will eventually land it on the Seattle waterfront.

The Polar Pioneer came over the horizon in the Strait of Juan de Fuca aboard the carrier Blue Marlin.

Activists opposed to drilling gathered with their kayaks on Ediz Hook, a long finger of land curling around the Port Angeles harbor. They planned to "unwelcome" the rig when it came to anchor.

But also present on the hook were residents who support having the rig in town. Many feel the area needs the welding and other jobs that the project will bring.

The Polar Pioneer and another Shell rig, the Noble Discover, are coming from Asia to a maintenance site being set up at Terminal 5 in West Seattle.

Activists have protested the use of the Port of Seattle site for maintaining Shell Oil's Arctic drilling fleet. They say that drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic is inherently dangerous and that Seattle shouldn't support that project. They also worry about contamination of Puget Sound by maintenance activities.

Greenpeace activists boarded the Polar Pioneer in mid-Pacific and remained for days until bad weather forced them back to their own ship.