Shell expected to get green light this week for Arctic drilling

Washington: All eyes will be on Washington DC and the polar north this week as the US Department of the Interior is expected to be ready to grant Shell the right to drill in the Arctic again.

Department head Sally Jewell, according to industry experts, is ready to make a statement on Wednesday formally allowing Shell to explore and exploit energy resources in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, off of Alaska.

Provisional approval was given in February by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which comes under the umbrella of Interior.

The move, if it goes ahead, will be extremely contentious with green groups who fear potentially ruinous oil spills in the region.

Environmentalists’ fears were not eased when BOEM’s own Environmental Impact Statement “there is a 75% chance of one or more large spills”. And that was a second version of the EIS, after federal court had ordered a do-over of the first one because it contained errors in assessing the environmental risks of drilling in the Arctic.

Shell had to halt operations in Arctic in 2012 after a key piece of safety equipment failed and its drilling rig, the ice-strengthened drill barge Kulluk, ran aground when being towed back to port.

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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