Kulluk Aground, January 1,2013, by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg, United States Coast Guard. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Tough timing for Shell on this announcement from the National Transportation Safety Board:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the grounding of the mobile offshore drilling unit Kulluk was Shell’s inadequate assessment of the risk for its planned tow of the Kulluk, resulting in implementation of a tow plan insufficient to mitigate that risk. – From the NTSB’s Marine Accident Brief: Grounding of Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Kulluk

Shell had been using the Kulluk in the Beaufort Sea and the drill ship was on its way back to Seattle for the winter in December 2012 when it wrecked off the coast of Alaska.

Shell has pointed out that the incident was a transportation issue, not a drilling problem. And it has said changes have been made as a result of the Kulluk grounding.

Still, a determination of inattentiveness to risk can’t be good just as Shell seeks permits to drill in the Arctic and faces big, high-profile protests from “Kayaktivists” who have been surrounding a company oil rig at the Port of Seattle. And it comes on top of earlier indications that Shell undertook the Kulluk operation when it did in order to avoid paying millions of dollars in property taxes to the state of Alaska, all the while knowing the transfer could be risky.