Shell delays drilling in Arctic until next year

ANGLO-DUTCH oil giant Shell has delayed its exploratory drilling offshore Alaska until next year, after a vital piece of equipment used during testing was damaged.

Shell, which has spent around $4.5bn (£2.8bn) in its efforts to drill in the Arctic seas, said it would suspend drilling as a containment dome used to hold oil was impaired.

“In order to lay a strong foundation for operations in 2013, we will forgo drilling into hydrocarbon zones this year,” the oil major said in a statement.

Shell said it would create “top holes” – the top portion of wells – but would not be able to drill any deeper rocks before the end of the season.

Shell, which has been engaged in exploratory drilling in Arctic waters since 2005, will start drilling in the Beaufort Sea in the next few days.

Last week Shell halted drilling in the area after just one day as a drill ship was threatened by encroaching sheets of ice.