Less than three months since it abandoned indefinitely its exploration for oil in US Arctic waters Shell is still trying to keep open its drilling options in the region.
The company has filed an appeal against the US Department of the Interior’s rejection of its request for an extension of drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska. Its existing leases there will expire in 2020.
Shell had asked Interior to pause those leases, effectively extending them. But the department turned down that request because it said Shell had no specific plans for exploration.
Back in September Shell said it was pulling out of the Arctic “for the foreseeable future” because its exploration at the Burger prospect in the Chukchi Sea did not warrant further investment.
The decision to withdraw came as a surprise after the oil major had patiently navigated federal red tape and environmentalists’ ingenious protests to get back to the Arctic after a three-year absence.
After getting the US government’s approval to drill on August 17, Shell announced its withdrawal by late September.
Over a nine-year period – including a three-year hiatus – Shell spent nine years and more than $7 billion in the quest for oil and natural gas in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.