Shell Allowed to Drill for Arctic Oil

Shell Allowed to Drill for Arctic OilShell Allowed to Drill for Arctic Oil

Royal Dutch Shell Plc won permission to drill a well for oil in the Arctic waters off Alaska for the first time in three years.

The US Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement granted the permit for the Burger J well in the Chukchi Sea, while limiting drilling at the nearby Burger V site, according to a statement on Monday.

Because of a requirement that active rigs have at least 15 miles of space between them, the company can drill only the top section of Burger V, Bloomberg reported.

Shell halted Arctic drilling in 2012 after a rig ran aground, helping prompt US President Barack Obama's administration to revisit US rules for exploration activities in the region. The producer, based in The Hague, the Netherlands, may complete the well as early as this summer.

“It’s possible we will complete a well this summer but we are not attaching a timeline to the number of feet drilled,” Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said by email. “Safe, efficient operations will ultimately determine the progress we make.”

Shell won federal regulators’ approval to drill the top sections of the two wells on July 22 and the company began drilling at Burger J on July 30. The BSEE permit allows it to drill into the oil-baring zone only at Burger J.

"Shell is committed to operating in a safe, environmentally responsible manner," Smith said.