Grounded Shell oil-drilling ship refloated

Updated 08 January 2013
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Grounded Shell oil-drilling ship refloated

ANCHORAGE, Alaska: A Shell oil-drilling ship that ran aground near a remote Alaska island has been refloated, officials said early yesterday.
Royal Dutch Shell’s Kulluk was floated from the rocks late Sunday night and teams were assessing its condition, the Unified Command said.
Once they’re satisfied that the vessel is seaworthy, it will be towed 30 miles (50 kilometers) to shelter in Kodiak Island’s Kiliuda Bay.
The oil drilling vessel, which has no engines of its own, was being towed for maintenance when it ran aground during a powerful storm on New Year’s Eve.
Officials said that so far there’s no sign the hull of the Kulluk has been breached or that oil has spilled from the vessel. It is carrying more than 140,000 gallons (529,940 liters) of diesel and about 12,000 gallons (45,425 liters) of lube oil and hydraulic fluid.
The main tow line was attached from a towing vessel earlier in the day in preparation for the refloating when ocean conditions were favorable. The Unified Command said three additional tugs are on standby along with the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley and two oil spill response vessels.
“Following this initial step forward, we will continue to remain cautious while we assess the Kulluk’s condition,” said Martin Padilla, commander of the refloating effort. “We will not move forward to the next phase until we are confident that we can safely transport the vessel.”
More than 730 people are involved in the response and recovery operation, the release said.
The Kulluk is a circular barge 266 feet (80 meters) in diameter with a funnel-shaped, reinforced steel hull that allows it to operate in ice. One of two Shell ships that drilled last year in the Arctic Ocean, it has a 160-foot (49-meter) derrick rising from its center and no propulsion system of its own.
The tow attempt is being made by the same vessel that lost the Kulluk last month while attempting to move it to Seattle. A line between the 360-foot (110-meter) anchor handler, the Aiviq, and the Kulluk broke Dec. 27. Four re-attached lines between the Aiviq or other vessels also broke in stormy weather and went aground.
Shell has reported superficial damage above the deck and seawater within that entered through open hatches. Water has knocked out regular and emergency generators, but portable generators were put on board late last week.


US State Department imposes visa ban on several DRCongo officials

Updated 22 June 2018
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US State Department imposes visa ban on several DRCongo officials

  • The visa ban comes after the US Treasury sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler on June 15, who it said had amassed a fortune through corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC, using his close friendship with Kabila
  • Several senior Congolese officials involved in corruption travel frequently to the US, so the visa ban is an important step

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Thursday it had imposed visa bans on several senior officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo for corruption tied to the country’s electoral process to send a “strong signal” about the need for a peaceful transfer of power.
Washington declined to identify the individuals, saying it was not obligated to reveal them based on “foreign policy considerations.”
“Today’s actions send a strong signal that the US government is committed to fighting corruption, to supporting credible elections that lead to DRC’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power,” the State Department said.
The move comes before elections scheduled in DRC for Dec. 23. There are concerns, however, that President Joseph Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father Laurent in 2001, could delay the vote to seek a third elected term.
The visa ban comes after the US Treasury sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler on June 15, who it said had amassed a fortune through corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC, using his close friendship with Kabila.
Sasha Lezhnev, deputy policy director at the nonprofit rights group Enough Project called Thursday’s visa ban an important step “to dissuade Kabila from putting his name on the ballot and help ensure a credible election.”
“Several senior Congolese officials involved in corruption travel frequently to the US, so the visa ban is an important step,” said Lezhnev. “They or the businesses they partner with also use US banks to process corrupt commercial deals, so the US and EU should enact stronger sanctions on their corporate networks to target their assets.”