Shell says its two offshore rigs to leave Alaska for repairs

ANCHORAGE, Alaska Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:59pm EST

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska Feb 11 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc's two offshore rigs in Alaska will head to Asia for repairs and upgrades, the Anglo-Dutch oil company said, casting doubts on its plan to do any drilling in Arctic seas this year.

Shell said in a statement late on Monday that no decision had been made yet about the 2013 Alaska offshore drilling program.

The Kulluk, its drillship that ran aground near Kodiak Island on Dec. 31 after escaping its tow lines, will head to a shipyard in Asia, said Curtis Smith, Shell's spokesman in Alaska.

"We haven't determined yet where in Asia," he said. The company had decided it could get better services in Asia than at the Seattle-area shipyard where the Kulluk had been headed when it began its ill-fated crossing of the Gulf of Alaska, he said.

"A number of shipyards in Asia have the drydock facilities and capacities to better execute these types of projects," he said.

The Kulluk, anchored since Jan. 8 in Kiliuda Bay off the eastern side of Kodiak Island, sustained flooding damage, including damage to its generators, according to early assessments.

The other offshore rig Shell used for its Alaska program, the Noble Discoverer, will also head to Asia for repairs, Shell said.

That drillship, contracted from Noble Corp, has been docked for several weeks in Seward, Alaska, where inspections by the U.S. Coast Guard discovered deficiencies in its environmental and safety systems.

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