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Arctic and Drilling: Shell Will Cease Arctic Drilling

Sep 28, 2015 03:08 PM EDT

Shell has announced that, despite having received permission from the federal government in May to drill in the Arctic region's Chukchi Sea, the company is cancelling that effort after conducting initial explorations and finding that that particular well would be unprofitable, according to a release from the company.

Controversy had resulted over the summer from the idea of drilling for energy resources in the Arctic's delicate circumstances. In June, a group of U.S. Senators authored a letter asking President Obama to rescind Shell's conditional permit to explore for resources there. A PDF of that letter is available here, on the website of Oregon senator Jeff Merkley. 

In their recent press release, Shell said that they had tried drilling an area called the Burger J well, to which they had access following the May permission. It is located in about 150 feet of water and is about 150 miles from Barrow, Alaska. While the energy company says that it found indications of oil and gas in the now 6800-foot well, these are not sufficient for further exploration in the Burger area, as the release said.

"Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future. This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska," according to the company release.

More information on Shell's earlier drilling proposal, which was solidified in May, is here on the Bureau of Energy Management website. 

In June, new research from University of Alaska, NOAA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution noted that the surface waters of Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas are increasing in acidity and could threaten shell-building animals (mollusks, crustaceans, etc.) by 2030. Their findings were published in the journal Oceanography

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