Good news.........sort of...on Shell's Arctic oil exploration plans in today's LA Times: [View all]
By Laura J. Nelson
August 1, 2012, 4:45 a.m.
Shell has reduced the number of exploratory offshore Arctic wells it plans to drill this year as construction delays continue on a containment barge that must be finished first, the company says.
Weather is also a factor: Shell engineers had hoped to begin drilling in early August, before ice forms in the fall. Arctic drilling is controversial: The bitter cold could hinder cleanup of any spill.
The company had hoped to finish five exploratory wells this year, but now will attempt two: one in the Beaufort Sea northeast of Alaska, and one in the Chukchi Sea between Alaska and Siberia, officials said Tuesday.
Its ultimate goal — 10 offshore wells in Arctic waters by the end of 2013 — remains unchanged, spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh told The Times. If time allows, she said, Shell will begin drilling three more wells and cap the unfinished holes until next season. The exploratory drilling program would be the first in Arctic waters in two decades.