Shell’s Arctic drilling plans may hit permitting snag

Shell’s plans to bore two wells in the Arctic Ocean this summer may be jeopardized by an obscure permitting requirement that effectively bars drilling operations close to each other in waters off Alaska.

The restriction highlighted by environmentalists opposed to Shell’s Arctic drilling campaign could be a major stumbling block for the company, which has spent $7 billion and seven years pursuing oil in the region.

The provision is embedded in the government’s rules for obtaining a “letter of authorization” allowing companies to disturb walruses, seals and other animals in the region — among the last permits Shell needs to launch activities in the Chukchi Sea next month. Under a 2013 Fish and Wildlife Service regulation, those authorizations are precluded for drilling activities happening within 15 miles of each other. The two wells Shell wants to drill this summer are about 9 miles apart.

A coalition of environmental groups insisted that the requirement should block Shell’s planned Arctic drilling and force the Obama administration to rescind earlier approvals. Any letters of authorization issued to Shell “would violate an explicit condition” of the governing regulations, the organizations said in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Read full story…


Similar Posts: