Friday Aug 31, 201211:56 AM GMT
US grants narrow approval for Shell to prep for Chukchi Sea drilling
Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:54AM
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The Obama administration said Thursday that Shell can take preparatory steps toward Arctic offshore drilling, an announcement that came just hours before the end of a Republican National Convention that has featured repeated attacks on the president as a foe of domestic energy production.


Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters that the two events are unrelated - although it was the latest in a series of energy-related announcements that the administration has put out this week.


Salazar said his department will allow Shell to perform “limited preparatory activities” in the Chukchi Sea, which includes installing two segments of pipe in non-oil-containing formations.


That falls short of the full drilling approval that Shell has been waiting for, less than a month before the scheduled end of the region’s drilling season. But Salazar said Shell may be able to get Interior’s certification in the next four or five days for the project’s spill-containment vessel, a crucial prerequisite for approval.

Shell confirmed that it expects the containment system to be ready for certification in the coming days. Politico




Shell's Arctic drilling plans had appeared on track to begin this year but it has run into delays. The company has spent $4.5 billion so far in its effort to explore for oil and gas off Alaska's coast. Reuters


A major hurdle for Shell has been securing certification for the Arctic Challenger, an oil-spill response vessel that remains in Bellingham, Washington, weeks after the company had hoped to send it toward Alaska's North Slope. BSEE will perform a final examination of its containment system after the Bureau of Shipping and the Coast Guard sign off on the vessel's safety.  Platts


Shell began picking up leases for offshore Alaska in 2005, but intense opposition from environmentalists and native groups scuttled previous plans. Reuters



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