Shell’s two offshore rigs in Alaska are to go to Asia for repairs and upgrades, the Anglo-Dutch oil company said, casting doubts on its plan to do any drilling in Arctic seas this year.

Shell said in a statement, issued late on Monday, that no decision had been made yet about its 2013 Alaska offshore drilling programme.

The Kulluk, the company’s drillship which ran aground near Kodiak Island on 31 December after separation from its tow lines, will go to a shipyard in Asia, said Curtis Smith, Shell’s spokesman in Alaska. “We haven’t determined yet where in Asia,” he said.

The company had reasoned that it would receive better services in Asia than at the shipyard in Seattle where the Kulluk had been going when it began its ill-fated crossing of the Gulf of Alaska, Smith said.

He added: “A number of shipyards in Asia have the dry dock facilities and capacities to better execute these types of projects.”

The Kulluk, which has been anchored since 8 January in Kiliuda Bay, off the eastern side of Kodiak Island, sustained flooding damage, which affected its generators, according to early assessments.

The other offshore rig Shell used for its Alaska programme, the Noble Discoverer, will also go to Asia for repairs, Shell said.

The Noble Discoverer, contracted from Noble Corp, has been docked for several weeks in Seward, Alaska, where inspections by the US coast guard discovered deficiencies in its environmental and safety systems.