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Shell Oil mobile drill rig runs aground off Alaska

Response crews battle foul weather as rig founders near Kodiak, Alaska, raising fears of potential oil spill

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A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Jayhawk helicopter crew delivers personnel to the mobile drilling unit Kulluk, southeast of Kodiak, Alaska, Dec. 31, 2012. The Kulluk broke away from one of its tow lines on Dec. 31 and was driven to rocks just off Kodiak Island, where it grounded at about 9 p.m. Alaska time, officials said.

HANDOUT/REUTERS

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In this photo provided by the United States Coast Guard, the tugs Aiviq and Nanuq tow the mobile drilling unit Kulluk while a Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station Kodiak transports crew members on Dec. 29, 2012. The tug lost its initial tow Thursday, suffered several engine failures and ran aground Monday in shallow water off Sitkalidak Island, company officials said.

Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Fra/AP

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The tugs Aiviq and Nanuq, shown tandem-towing the Kulluk (not in photo) southwest of Kodiak, Dec. 30, were trying to tow it to a sheltered area but weather conditions, including winds of up to 100 kilometres an hour and seas up to 11 metres, prevented them from taking the necessary northerly course.

HANDOUT/REUTERS

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Shell Oil incident commander Susan Childs, second from right, answers a question about the Monday night grounding of the Shell drill ship Kulluk at a press conference Dec. 31 in Anchorage, Alaska. Looking on, from left, are Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith, Coast Guard Commander Shane Montoya, state on-scene coordinator Alan Wien, and Garth Pulkkinen of Noble Corp., the operator of the Kulluk.

Dan Joling/AP

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A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Kodiak overflies the tugs Aiviq and Nanuq tandem-towing the mobile drilling unit Kulluk 185 kilometres southwest of Kodiak, Alaska in this Dec. 30, 2012 handout photo obtained by Reuters Jan. 1, 2013. Response crews have been fighting severe weather in the Gulf of Alaska while working with the Kulluk and its tow vessel Aiviq.

HANDOUT/REUTERS

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The tug Aiviq travels at just under 2 mph with the Kulluk in tow southwest of Kodiak, Alaska Dec. 30, 2012. The Kulluk has about 139,000 gallons of ultra-low-sulphur diesel on board.

HANDOUT/REUTERS

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The mobile drilling unit Kulluk is shown being towed by the tugs Aiviq and Nanuq Dec. 30, 2012.

HANDOUT/REUTERS

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Four technicians return to Air Station Kodiak after visiting the mobile drilling unit Kulluk 83 kilometres south of Kodiak, Alaska in this Dec. 31, 2012 handout photo. The MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew hoisted the technicians from the Kulluk in 100 km/h winds and 11-metre seas.

HANDOUT/REUTERS

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The tow vessel Aiviq, left, and the tug Alert tow the conical drilling unit Kulluk through rough seas southeast of Kodiak, Alaska in this Dec. 31, 2012 handout photo obtained by Reuters Jan. 1, 2013. Response crews have been fighting severe weather in the Gulf of Alaska while working with the now-grounded Kulluk and its tow vessel Aiviq.

HANDOUT/REUTERS

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