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Arctic Drilling

May 11, 2015 - The Obama administration granted tentative approval to Shell oil company to drill exploratory fossil fuel wells off the coast of Alaska in the Arctic Ocean.

The move came after years of Shell's problematic attempts at transporting rigs and vessels to the challenging waters above the Arctic Circle.

In 2012 Shell experienced trouble with a containment dome designed as protection against oil spills. It also had trouble with a ship transporting a drilling platform through Alaskan waters.

Tentative Approval Granted May 11, 2015

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management granted tentative approval of the exploratory wells.

Shell must still obtain approval of an oil spill response plan from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. That plan must include well capping and containment provisions, such as equipment used and procedures to be followed.

It must also submit a marine mammal protection plan and agree to comply with mammal protection regulations and practices.

Maps of Arctic Drilling


Shell's Revised Drilling Plan. Click on map for larger image.


Location of the Shell drilling off the north coast of Alaska and the site of the test failure of its containment dome. Click on map for larger image. Map source: GlobalResourcesNews.com


Offshore drilling areas near Alaska. Click for larger image.
Map: US Dept of Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management


Estimate oil and gas reserves in or offshore Alaska. Map source: USGS

Chart of oil and natural gas reserves in various oil provinces north of the Arctic Circle. Click on map for larger image. Source: USGS


Arctic Drilling - Stories, Links and Resources

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What Shell's Kulluk Oil Rig Accident Means for Arctic Drilling
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Arctic Drilling
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Offshore Problems Beset Shell in North

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