Kulluk was an ice-strengthened drilling barge made to drill in the Canadian arctic in the heyday of 1980s. After a long period in a mothballed state Kulluk was brought to Alaska for more offshore drilling in 2012. Alas, a series of accidents led to Kulluk running aground and eventually being scrapped.
Kulluk was an ice-strengthened drill barge that was used for oil exploration in the Arctic waters. She was constructed by Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding in Japan in 1983 and operated in the Canadian Arctic until 1993 when she was mothballed for over a decade. Kulluk was ice-reinforced with 3 in (76 mm) thick, reinforced steel, and a double-sided funnel-shape hull with flared sides enabling her to operate in Arctic waters as moving ice was deflected downwards and was broken into pieces. The vessel was moored with a twelve-point anchor system. Her rated water depth for operations was 400 feet (120 m). Her drilling depth was 20,000 feet (6,100 m). Kulluk had no propulsion and had to be towed to location.
In 2005, she was purchased and extensively refurbished by Royal Dutch Shell for the drilling operations off the northern coast of Alaska. On 31 December 2012, Kulluk drifted aground after the towing line to the icebreaking anchor-handling tug Aiviq parted in heavy weather. While the rig was recovered, the repairs were not deemed feasible and Shell decided to scrap the unit in 2014.
Kulluk was born for use drilling in the Canadian arctic. Yet no drilling has occurred in the Canadian arctic since the 1980s. (From 1972 - 1989 a total of 142 offshore wells were drilled in the Canadian arctic).
Kulluk’s second life came as part of Shell’s $5 billion gamble drilling offshore in the Alaskan arctic. Shell has not given up the quest for offshore riches in the arctic and plans to drill offshore in the Alaskan arctic in 2015 in spite of Obama’s recent executive order banning offshore drilling in 9.8 million acres of Alaska’s northern coast.