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Obama Administration Approves Shell’s Final Permit to Drill in the Chukchi Sea Days Before His Visit to Discuss Climate Change

Fairbanks, AK—Today the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved the final permits for Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) to enter hydrocarbon zones in the Burger J prospect, just 70 miles offshore from the village of Wainwright.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fairbanks, AK—Today the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved the final permits for Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) to enter hydrocarbon zones in the Burger J prospect, just 70 miles offshore from the village of Wainwright. This permit has been delayed due to damage on the MSV Fennica, the fleets’ icebreaker which also carries the necessary capping stack. The vessel was diverted to Portland, Oregon for maintenance, amidst continued protest. Elisabeth Dabney, the Northern Alaska Environmental Center Executive Director states “Oil and gas development in the Arctic Ocean brings unprecedented risk to an entire way of life. The Arctic waters are the garden—the life line—of Alaska’s Arctic coastal communities. Climate change continues to devastate the region with coastal erosion. We are disappointed in the Administration’s decision to allow Shell to drill. This is a huge diversion from President Obama’s promise to combat climate change. Arctic oil is simply unburnable to maintain a stable climate.” 

Shell has been exploring two of their leasing areas, the Burger J and Burger V prospects since July 2015, breaking its first exploration well on July 30. Shell now has six weeks to drill, with the season ending on September 28. This permit only applies to one lease and the corporation will have to apply for another permit if it wishes to drill in the Burger V area this season.

 

Despite Shells original plans to drill both Burger J and V prospects simultaneously, newly developed arctic drilling regulations require drill rigs to be 15 miles apart. Additionally, they must have a capping stack present and all activities must be concluded by the end of September. Shell has ardently opposed these safeguards citing they were over burdensome.

 

 

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