Shell Seeks Modified Permit for Arctic Offshore Drilling
With a key safety vessel repaired and in northern waters, Royal Dutch Shell has applied to amend its federal exploratory drilling permit to allow drilling into oil-bearing rock in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska’s northwest coast.
Shell in July received permission to begin some drilling at two sites in the Chukchi Sea but was banned from digging into petroleum zones roughly 8,000 ft below the ocean floor.
The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement limited the permit then because equipment was not on hand to handle a possible well blowout.
The equipment is on the Fennica, a leased Finnish icebreaker that suffered hull damage 3 July as it left Dutch Harbor, a port in the Aleutians Islands.
Arctic offshore drilling is strongly opposed by environmental groups that say industrial activity will harm polar bears, Pacific walrus, ice seals, and threatened whales already vulnerable from climate warming and shrinking summer sea ice.
They also say that drilling in US Arctic waters, which the government estimates holds 26 billion bbl of recoverable oil, will delay a transition to renewable energy.