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Shell Itching to Drill in Arctic Alaskan Waters

Melting ice is exposing a bounty of oil and gas in the Arctic, and Alaska gives the US a stake in the game. Earlier this week, oil major Royal Dutch Shell submitted a plan to drill off the northwest coast of Alaska. The FT reports:

The plan for multiple wells in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska was delivered to US federal regulators in Anchorage.

Shell needs the interior department to approve the programme, a revision of its previous plan, to be able to drill when the ice clears next summer, which is expected to be in mid-July….

Simon Henry, Shell’s chief financial officer, last week described Alaska as “the largest single exploration prospect in the Shell group” and “the most attractive single opportunity for the future”.

Drilling won’t begin until next summer at the earliest, and thanks to the shale boom, it will be many years yet before oil companies significantly shift their focus from the relatively cheap exploration of onshore fields in North Dakota and Texas to frigid Arctic waters.

The USGS estimates that the Arctic contains 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its gas. Shell hopes to blaze the trail next summer, and many will follow in pursuit.

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