Regulators still assessing Shell plan as vessels head to Arctic

Regulators still assessing Shell plan as vessels head to Arctic

Seattle: Even though Shell’s vessels have already begun their journey north towards Alaskan waters, the company was still being assessed by regulators on Tuesday about different aspects of its planned Arctic oil drilling campaign.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, an agency of the Department of the Interior, was scrutinising Shell’s drilling permit applications, and regulators were asking the company for more details about its first two planned wells in the Chukchi Sea northwest of Alaska.

The two drilling permits – for the “J” and “V” wells at Shell’s Burger prospect – are among the last remaining federal authorisations the company needs to launch its planned drilling next month.

On Monday one of Shell’s two main rigs, The Polar Pioneer, left Seattle where it had been moored and where it had been the target of anti-drilling environmentalists.

Among other loose ends to be tied before the drilling begins is a separate animal disturbance authorisation from the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service.

But most other regulatory hurdles have been cleared and it should be a matter of just a few weeks before the oil campaign gets under way.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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