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Shell offshore spill containment system passes a key federal test

The Arctic Challenger is at the Port of Bellingham International Dock Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, in Bellingham, Wa. Safety equipment that Shell Oil volunteered to put into place for drilling off the coast of Alaska is complicating the company's quest to reach oil-bearing rock during the short open water drilling season this year. Royal Dutch Shell LLC announced Monday, Sept. 17, 2012 that a containment dome being tested off the coast of Bellingham, Wash., was damaged Saturday night in its final test. Time needed to repair the damage, on top of delays from ice and waiting for the Alaska Natives' whaling season to end, figured into a decision to cancel plans to complete exploratory wells this year in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.
PHILIP A. DWYER / AP file photo

In a Shell contractor's test of the spill containment dome last year, it was said to have been "crushed like a beer can." From KUOW in Seattle:

Neither Shell nor the federal government announced the results, but a Shell contractor successfully deployed Shell’s Arctic oil-spill containment system in Samish Bay (Wash.) in March.

Crews from Superior Energy Services of Houston slowly lowered a 20-foot dome over the side of Shell’s Arctic Challenger barge and down into the 150-foot-deep water. They anchored the dome and used it to suck up sea water at a rate of about 2,000 gallons a minute.

The dome system is supposed to do the same to oil and gas gushing from the bottom of the Arctic Ocean if a blown-out well cannot be capped.

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