Drilling in only 200 feet of water, Shell began boring a new top well in the Chukchi Sea about 70 miles off of Alaska. Meanwhile, according to FuelFix, as the drilling began, dozens of employees were in the company's Anchorage real-time operations monitoring center to watch the progress.
This first top well will check for unexpected obstructions, with workers boring an 8.5-inch-wide pilot hole that will extend roughly 1,400 feet beneath the sea floor (
target="_blank">watch drill bit lowered into place
target="_blank">watch drill bit lowered into place). Then, in the right hand window, watch a Shell-produced CGI video about top hole drilling at the site.
Next Shell will dig a large mud cellar to hold the blowout preventer. Normally blowout preventers sit on the sea floor, but this celler will protect it from large ice floes. The top hole will later be widened and filled with drill pipe and cement, but for now Shell is barred from drilling into areas that might contain oil and gas until the oil spill containment barge arrives.