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Department of the Interior Approves Risky Extraction

Posted by Northern Center at Jul 22, 2015 01:45 PM |

Today the Department of the Interior (DOI) approved Royal Dutch Shell’s drilling plan for the Chukchi Sea—miles off the coast of Wainwright. Shell will receive two well permits to drill but these will not allow them to go into hydrocarbon zones, nor will it allow them to drill simultaneous wells. However, upon the return of the capping stack, held on the now broken Fennica, Shell may apply for yet another modified Application for Permit to Drill (APD).

Fairbanks, AK—Today the Department of the Interior (DOI) approved Royal Dutch Shell’s drilling plan for the Chukchi Sea—miles off the coast of Wainwright. Shell will receive two well permits to drill but these will not allow them to go into hydrocarbon zones, nor will it allow them to drill simultaneous wells. However, upon the return of the capping stack, held on the now broken Fennica, Shell may apply for yet another modified Application for Permit to Drill (APD).

Several weeks ago the US Fish and Wildlife Service denied a portion of their original pla as Shell intended to drill two wells within 15 miles of each other, which is not allowed to ensure minimal walrus protection. Today however, Shell has been approved to stage both the Polar Pioneer and Noble Discover in the Chukchi Sea allowing only one rig to drill at a time. Once the first well is capped the other rig can start drilling.

 Jessica Girard, Arctic Program Director at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center says, “The Administration's approval for Shell's drilling permits is a diversion from their promised climate goals. President Obama has an opportunity to reverse course while the icebreaker Fennica is being repaired. There is no evidence that Shell can responsibly be in the Chukchi Sea this summer, or ever.”

 Shell still needs to reapply for final approval to drill into hydrocarbon zones once damage to their capping stack vessel is fixed and back in the Arctic.

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