Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shell Prepares for Start of Offshore Alaska Drilling

Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) is currently deploying some workers and infrastructure in Alaska to start drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic next summer as the oil giant is "optimistic" that new legal challenges won't derail an exploration plan on which it has spent $4 billion, a senior executive said Monday.

"We are already spending money building resources, putting people in place to be ready to drill in the summer of 2012," Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Co., the U.S. unit of the Anglo-Dutch giant, told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview. "Because the buildup time to have all the resources on time, it's a fairly long runway we have to start working [on] now to be ready next summer. Spending is going to ramp up after the end of year, in the first months of next year."

The remarks came after some environmental groups filed this month a formal challenge to air quality permits that Shell needs to drill in the Arctic. The permits under question were approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September and they allow Shell to use the drillship "Discoverer" and a fleet of icebreakers and other vessels in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. In September, other environmental groups also sued the Interior Department for approving the company's exploration proposal for the Beaufort.

"We expect legal challenges every step of the way. But we are cautiously optimistic that we will be in a position to drill next year," Odum said.....Read the entire article.

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