Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) will begin drilling off Alaska’s north coast in the third quarter, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said as he outlined U.S. plans to advance Arctic energy production.
“We anticipate that there will be exploration with the initial wells going in by Shell this summer,” Salazar said today in an interview at a meeting of energy ministers in Trondheim, Norway. “We have now pending exploration plans that have been submitted by other companies as well.”
Shell is awaiting U.S. approval of the final permit to develop leases bought in 2005 and 2008. ConocoPhillips (COP:US) and Statoil ASA (STL) also won rights in the region and plan to join The Hague-based Shell in the area last explored in early 1990s.
Arctic drilling has been challenged in court by environmental groups and some native Alaskans who say it may lead to a disaster similar to BP Plc (BP/)’s well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, triggering the biggest U.S. offshore spill.
Shell plans to drill in about 120 feet (37 meters) of water, while BP’s well was about 5,000 feet deep.
The U.S. plans to sell more oil and gas exploration licenses in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in 2016 and 2017 as the nation seeks to bolster domestic energy reserves,Salazar told reporters today.
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