Noble Still In Trouble in Chukchi Sea

From the Houston Chronicle

                            ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The company hired by [Royal Dutch Shell PLC](http://www.chron.com/search/?action=search&channel=news%2Ftexas&inlineLink=1&searchindex=gsa&query=%22Royal+Dutch+Shell+plc%22)  in 2012 to drill on petroleum leases in the Arctic Ocean pleaded guilty  Friday to eight felony environmental and maritime crimes.

Noble Drilling U.S. LLC, based in Sugarland, Texas, agreed to pay $12.2 million after pleading guilty to five counts of failing to maintain records on a drill ship that operated in the Chukchi Sea, one count of failing to maintain proper ballast water records and two counts of failing to report hazardous vessel conditions.
“On behalf of the company, I plead guilty,” Bernie G. Wolford Jr., president of Noble Drilling U.S., told District Court Judge Ralph Beistline.
Wolford had no comment outside the courtroom and referred questions to a company spokesman.
The $8.2 million fine and $4 million in community service payments were due Friday.
The company was placed on probation for four years. As part of a plea agreement, the company agreed to an environmental compliance plan for all floating drill units the United States and foreign waters, and to pay for a third-party review to make sure the company complies.
The case was aided by an informant who will receive a payment of $512,000, or half the fine of one count. The informant’s name was kept confidential for the informant’s protection.
Noble operated the drill ship Noble Discoverer in the Chukchi and the drill barge Kulluk in in the Beaufort Seat in support of Shell drilling during the 2012 open water season. Shell drilled pilot holes and dug mudline cellars and was not allowed to drill into oil-bearing deposits because required response equipment was not on hand.
The charges focused mostly on the 572-foot Noble Discoverer, built as a logging ship in 1965 and converted to a drill ship in 1976.
Its mechanical problems began when the ship left New Zealand in February 2012 for Seattle. It was under assistance by a tug until it was off the coast of Washington. Engine failures on the transit and its eventual voyage to and from Arctic waters were not reported to the Coast Guard as required.
“At times, the condition of the Noble Discoverer’s main engine also created high levels of exhaust in the engine room, multiple sources of fuel and oil leaks, and back fires,” prosecutors said in the plea agreement. "Noble failed to report any of these hazardous conditions to the U.S. Coast Guard."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis said Noble’s priorities were not the environment or the safety of its crew. Some Noble crew members during the investigation thanked investigators for taking on the case, he said.
“They appreciated that these things were being resolved,” he said.
The oil log violations were more than paperwork violations, Feldis said. Noble crew members from the time the Noble Discoverer left New Zealand operated the vessel with a dismantled oil water separator, a device that removes petroleum from bilge water and other sources so that it can be dumped overboard.
The company used a 55-gallon barrel system to collect water entering from a leaky propeller shaft seal that had to be emptied every three hours. Crew members not only didn’t report the hazard, they hid the “blue barrel system” from Coast Guard inspectors in Seattle, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Yvonne Lamoureax.
Feldis said it was amazing that the violations could occur in 2012.
“These are not new laws,” Feldis said. "These are well-understood by the least sophisticated companies and mariners."
Noble Attorney John Cox said that the company cooperated with the investigation from its start. Drilling itself was flawless, he said. The company began a voluntary compliance plan when the investigation began and much of it was incorporated into the plea agreement, he said.
Three Alaska entities will benefit from the company’s $4 million community service payment. The University of Alaska FairbanksInternational Arctic Research Center will receive $2.5 million. The Alaskan Arctic Fund of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will receive $1 million. The Arctic Research Consortium will receive $500,000.

Sounds to me like Shell picked a couple of real winners for their historic venture.

[QUOTE=txwooley;150248]Sounds to me like Shell picked a couple of real winners for their historic venture.[/QUOTE]

oh the comments I could make…

well, here’s the interesting bit that was not so widely reported, I think.

[I]One crew member in particular appears to have played an important role in obtaining the conviction. A portion of Noble’s penalty, $512,000 will go to a whistleblower who provided critical information to investigators and prosecutors, Feldis said at the news conference. That represented half of the penalty assessed for one of the felony counts, he said.

The identity of the recipient is being kept confidential, Feldis said. The award is authorized under provisions of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, one of the federal laws Noble admitted violating.[/I]

[QUOTE=Drill Bill;150592]well, here’s the interesting bit that was not so widely reported, I think.[/QUOTE]

HOLY FUCK! I coulda retired on the SHIT I could have served up to the DoJ…

oh well, I’m glad someone got a nice payout from Noble’s band of rubes and idiots. Just so long as it wasn’t either of the masters of the DISCO that profiteered…they should both be doing time for their crimes and misdemeanors

[QUOTE=c.captain;150603]HOLY FUCK! I coulda retired on the SHIT I could have served up to the DoJ…

oh well, I’m glad someone got a nice payout from Noble’s band of rubes and idiots. Just so long as it wasn’t either of the masters of the DISCO that profiteered…they should both be doing time for their crimes and misdemeanors[/QUOTE]

Sounds more like a raw deal. Wonder if word would ever get out who it was, assume he had plenty of evidence to show off to get that kind of cash. Kind of makes me wonder if this guy ever tried to have his concerns addressed up through chain of command and even through DPA or just took easy way and called instead. Of course, after 40% goes back tin taxes it’s really not that much to retire off of.

What ever happened to that one captain, your fellow KP bandmember? I assume if him or any of he other guys were going to jail it would have been reported, what about the Chief Engineers, anyone know?

[QUOTE=The Commodore;150616]What ever happened to that one captain, your fellow KP bandmember? I assume if him or any of he other guys were going to jail it would have been reported, what about the Chief Engineers, anyone know?[/QUOTE]

presumably they may be spending the X-mas & New year’s period sending out CVs and looking for jobs with other drilling contractors, no?

Jeez, all they had to do was get the pos to the drill site, maybe they should of just towed it. The shaft seals leaking is prob why they quit using the ows? I guess they pay thru the nose for this now but who was the loyal employee who soaked them for half a mil? & + ? that money will be gone pdq and he’ll probably have to make a career change! I think i’ll wait till I leap on the band wagon knowing only the govt. ‘facts’.

[QUOTE=The Commodore;150616]Sounds more like a raw deal. Wonder if word would ever get out who it was, assume he had plenty of evidence to show off to get that kind of cash. Kind of makes me wonder if this guy ever tried to have his concerns addressed up through chain of command and even through DPA or just took easy way and called instead. Of course, after 40% goes back tin taxes it’s really not that much to retire off of.[/QUOTE]

The only way to prosecute operators like this many times is thru inside information. Criminals depend on silence thru peer pressure or threat and intimidation [implied or otherwise] to ply their trade whether drug dealers or shipowners. As far as addressing concerns up thru the chain? When those up the chain made the decisions that got them to this point perhaps the reporter decided it wouldn’t be in his/her best interest to point out their errors to them.
If you can’t pay the fine don’t do the crime. It’s not like anyone actually went to jail.
tengineer