Shell crosses first hurdle in its controversial Arctic drilling plans

Josh Martin
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SHELL’s controversial plans to drill for oil in the Arctic moved one step closer yesterday, when the US Interior Department upheld a 2008 lease sale in the sea off Alaska.

The ruling means Shell could soon return to oil and gas exploration in the Arctic since it suffered mishaps in the region in 2012.

“The Arctic is an important component of the [Obama] admin­istration’s national energy strategy, and we remain committed to taking a thoughtful and balanced approach to oil and gas leasing and exploration offshore Alaska,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will survey the impact on the environment of Shell’s plan.

Shell lost control of a massive oil rig, the Kulluk, in 2012, which then ran aground. But in anticipation of returning to the region, Shell has already moved rigs to Alaska.

Many environmentalists oppose offshore Arctic drilling, saying any oil spill would be impossible to fix.

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