Shell Scales Back Alaska Drilling Plans
This week Shell began installing anchors at the site of its planned wells in the Chukchi Sea – a big step in moving their Arctic drilling plans forward. Despite this latest preparation, the oil giant has been forced to scale back their ambitious Arctic exploration plans due to delays in the construction of a required emergency spill containment vessel and last minute problems with air pollution permits. The company says these setbacks will allow for just two of the ten wells planned for the Beaufort and Chukchi seas to be completed this year.
Regulations require Shell to discontinue drilling operations in hydrocarbon-baring zones by October 31st in the Beaufort Sea and by September 24 in neighboring Chukchi Sea. In addition the company will have to halt operations to allow native Alaskans time to hunt the bowhead whales that migrate through the area. A late ice season has also thwarted the plans to begin drilling operations in early July – a step that has now been pushed back to late August.
An anchor will soon be delivered to Shell’s Chukchi Sea to position the Noble Discoverer drillship above the Burger prospect, an area of 37 tracts that were leased by Shell in 1989 for nearly $170 million.
Shell’s management seems confident that they’ll secure the Interior Departments approval for each well and say they’re sticking to their goal of completing ten wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea.
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