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Tugs towing Shell drill vessel to Dutch Harbor

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Royal Dutch Shell PLC drilling vessel that ran aground on New Year's Eve is on the move from near Kodiak Island in Alaska to Dutch Harbor.

Shell spokesman Curtis Smith told The Associated Press in an email that the Kulluk left Kiliuda Bay on Tuesday afternoon. Three tugs are towing the barge in a journey expected to take about 10 days.

The Kulluk drilled in the Beaufort Sea last year and was being towed to Seattle for maintenance when it broke loose from its towing vessel. The round drilling barge ran aground New Year's Eve.

It was refloated and towed to the protected bay, but the Coast Guard had ordered it to remain anchored until its condition was assessed.

The Coast Guard last week lifted its order restricting the vessel's movement. Coast Guard on-scene coordinator Captain Paul Mehler III said Shell was free to move the vessel after meeting requirements that the Coast Guard had placed on the vessel.

Once the Kulluk reaches Dutch Harbor it will be placed aboard a larger vessel for a "dry tow" to a shipyard in Asia, Smith said.

"Once in dry dock, the Kulluk will be further analyzed and a scope of work assigned to the rig," Smith said via email. "The timeline associated with that scope of work will dictate the Kulluk's future role in Shell's ongoing exploration program offshore Alaska."

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