San Francisco: Shell is still waiting for final approval of permits to its planned resumption of oil exploration in the Arctic. It is also hanging on a judge’s ruling on its request for a temporary restraining order on would-be protesters against its drill fleet.
But the energy giant is proceeding as if all that red tape is cleared as it prepares to defy environmentalists and send rigs to Alaskan waters for the first time in three years,
The company’s CFO Simon Henry told media on Thursday that a fleet of 25 vessels was ready for the expected two-year programme exploring three licenced wells in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska.
They have to be ready and set to go said Simon because “Some of the permits are issued at the last moment”.
The US Department of the Interior is in the process of reviewing plans Shell submitted for this drilling campaign.
Shell is also awaiting the ruling of US District Judge Sharon Gleason in Anchorage, Alaska. Judge Gleason on Tuesday said she will consider additional briefs after hearing seven hours of arguments pertaining to the company’s request for an injunction banning Greenpeace from approaching Shell’s Arctic vessels during the drilling season, which runs to October 31.
Greenpeace and other environmental groups want to draw attention by protest to their concerns that a drilling accident in Arctic waters could be disastrous and that Shell has exaggerated its ability to handle such an accident.
Shell maintains it is worried for the safety of protesters and its own employees if the campaigners get too close.
The judge’s decision could take another week.
Shell’s last venture into Arctic exploration, in 2012, ended ignominiously when a rig was grounded.