Drilling advances ///

The sultry Louisiana coast, with its shrimp boats, gumbo and innumerable oilfield insignias, is about the last place you would expect icebreakers to be part of the conversational mix. Yet, later this month, another chapter will be added to the ever-growing anthology that is southern Louisiana’s rich marine heritage when Shell Exploration and Production takes possession of a vessel critical to its long-planned Arctic drilling campaign. On March 24, Galiano, La.-based marine transportation giant Edison Chouest Offshore will deliver the newbuild M/V Aiviq icebreaker to Shell, which will use the vessel to support its Beaufort Sea exploratory drilling program, set to begin off Alaska during the summer of 2012. Once turned over to Shell, the $200-million, 360-ft Aiviq will officially go into the archives as the largest vessel ever constructed by Chouest and one of the most advanced non-military icebreakers in use today.

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