Permit problem for barge Shell needs for Arctic

BELLINGHAM — An oil-spill containment barge that Shell Oil needs for Arctic drilling faces a new challenge as it undergoes repairs in Bellingham.

The Washington Ecology Department said Thursday the companies retrofitting the Arctic Challenger — Greenberry Industrial and Superior Energy Services — need to apply for storm water permits for runoff.

The Bellingham Herald reported that the permits should have been obtained in May, but the department let the work proceed because the project was expected to wrap up in July. It takes about two months to obtain a permit.

Problems have delayed work on the barge and some equipment was damaged last weekend during testing. Without the barge, Shell had to cancel plans to complete exploratory wells this year in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas before ice closes in.

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