Shell has been preparing for future Arctic activity, and as part of these efforts is testing a capping stack that would help mitigate the effects of an oil spill, a key concern for erecting offshore operations platforms.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) announced in a news brief that it has been working with Shell on the M/V Fennica in Puget Sound to develop a safe stack for energy well usage. In addition to this series of tests, Shell has requested permission to drill two new well sites over the next few months in the same area, which would possibly put the stack to the test.

If deployed correctly, this equipment could be dispatched from a nearby ship, the M/V Fennica, to the site of a possible blowout. The release lists some of the additional tasks the organization will conduct to ensure that Shell complies with government regulations for its activities.

"BSEE will use its authority to conduct a variety of equipment inspections and deployment exercises, some of which may be unannounced, to validate the tactics, logistics, resource availability, and personnel proficiency specified and relied upon in the approved plans and permits," it says. Photos included with the statement show workers monitoring the stack earlier this month.

As Donal Scully writes in a piece for Splash 24/7, this type of equipment is especially important in the years after the infamous BP oil spill, in which a faulty system failed to prevent oil from spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. This testing effort coincides with other endeavors by Shell with an eye for the Arctic. 

Oilfield insurance helps protect companies from potential financial losses when conducting extensive equipment testing and other methods of preparing for demanding operations in remote territories.

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