Shell cancels Arctic drilling plans for 2013

Posted on 27 February 2013  | 
Royal Dutch Shell today announced today that it will forgo its plans to drill for oil and gas in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas in 2013 so it can be more prepared to drill in the future.

The decision by Shell comes on the heels of the company’s 2012 drilling season in Alaska, which was fraught with challenges, including the near-grounding of one of its drill rigs, a fire later on the same rig, the failure of its oil spill containment dome, and, ultimately, the grounding of a drilling rig on a pristine, wildlife-rich island in Alaska in late December.

“Shell has finally recognized what we have known all along – that the Arctic is a unique and challenging environment and not to be trifled with,” said Margaret Williams, managing director of the WWF-US Arctic Program.

WWF welcomes Shell’s decision, given the environmental and cultural values of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas – home to such wildlife as walrus, polar bears and whales. But the decision only provides temporary relief to a situation that could have implications for many generations to come.

‘Other Arctic nations are watching the U.S., which must set a high bar for development in the Arctic,” Williams said. “That means that – before ever allowing drilling – we must scrutinize the inadequacy of existing response technologies, the lack of infrastructure in the region, and the inability to quickly and adequately respond to emergencies because of extreme environmental conditions in the Arctic. Until that happens, drilling should never be allowed in the Arctic – especially the year after a series of still unexplained mishaps and errors.”
Shell plans to begin drilling in the Beaufort Sea as soon as July 1 and expand drilling operations to the Chukchi Sea soon thereafter.
Shell has cancelled drilling plans off Alaska's coast for 2013.
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