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Gov. Parnell asks Salazar to include Alaskans on Shell Arctic review

Alaska Dispatch

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell has requsted that Alaska be included in a high-level review panel which will look at Shell's Arctic drilling operation last summer.

The Interior Department says it has called the panel to "identify challenges and lessons learned" after the troubled season Royal Dutch Shell had last summer in its efforts to drill exploratory wells in Alaska's offshore Arctic. The project was struck with a series of mishaps, and the trouble culminated in the storm-caused grounding of the drill rig Kulluk on a beach off of Kodiak Island.

The overarching review project, dubbed the Expedited Assessment of 2012 Arctic Operations, is distinct from the marine casualty investigation of the Kulluk's grounding, which is being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard with the assistance of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the National Transportation Safety Board.

In his letter asking Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that officials from the state of Alaska be included on the panel, Parnell wrote:

An "Expedited Assessment of 2012 Arctic Operations," led by Tommy Beaudreau at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), will identify lessons that can be learned from the past year's challenges to improve operational security in the future. Given the importance of this review to the future of the State, and the world-renowned expertise of Alaska’s marine and regulatory public servants, we request that officials from the State of Alaska be included on the panel undertaking this review.

He added:

(Alaskans) have the utmost respect for the Coast Guard’s unequalled experience in protecting Alaska’s mariners and marine environment and the North Slope Borough’s critical importance as a local stakeholder, and we anticipate your panel will benefit from participation from the Coast Guard and the borough, as well.

The review is expected to be completed in 60 days.

Read Parnell's letter.