A new type of containment dome for leaking wellhead aboard the Arctic Challenger barge has been damaged during testing.

The company may take some days to assess and repair the damage.

Shell’s arctic drilling campaign has faced many setbacks; minor drilling which began early in September 2012 had to be stopped as ice 30 miles long and 12 miles wide appeared to be heading toward the drill ship.

The time required to repair the dome and efforts to protect local whaling operations have also led the company to delay the 2012-2013 exploration program.

Shell plans to drill several preparatory top holes ahead of beginning drilling operations in 2013 and will cap and temporarily abandon wells drilled earlier in line with regulatory requirements.

The company expects to receive drilling permits for the multi-year exploration program on testing and deployment of the Arctic Containment System.

Noble Discoverer, drill ship will resume its position and drilling operations over the ‘Burger A’ prospect over the next few days.

The company also intends to exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea.

Shell has spent more than $4.5bn over four years preparing for work in the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea.