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Shell's Arctic programme faces hurdle in port of Seattle

05 May 2015

Royal Dutch Shell's quest to return to Arctic drilling for the first time in three years could face delays after Seattle ruled that the city's port must apply for a permit for the company to use it as a hub for drilling rigs. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a Democrat who has fought against new projects by coal and oil companies, applauded the requirement by the city's planning department.

Stock image
Stock image

"This is an opportunity for the port and all of us to make a bold statement about how oil companies contribute to climate change, oil spills and other environmental disasters - and reject this short-term lease," Murray said on his website. While the port expected to eventually get the permit, a spokesman for Murray said the process was likely to take weeks.

Shell is hoping to return to Arctic oil and gas exploration for the first time since 2012, although the U.S. Interior Department has not issued its full blessing yet. During Shell's accident prone drilling season that year, the Coast Guard had to evacuate the crew from an oil rig that eventually grounded and was eventually scrapped.

While the price of oil has fallen over the last year, the Arctic is considered to have good long term potential. The Arctic is estimated to contain about 20% of the world's undiscovered oil with some 34 million barrels of oil in US waters alone.

Shell is preparing a fleet of 25 vessels to begin a two-year program to explore two to three wells in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska, Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said on April 30.
The US Department of the Interior is now consider the company's drilling plan, which could take 30 days.

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