WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US government decided to provide a drilling permission to Shell after forcing the company to postpone drilling in order to repair a ship rigged with a capping stack, which shuts down a well during a loss of control.
"Shell has received approval… to conduct exploratory drilling activities into potential oil-bearing zones offshore Alaska at one of the wells at the Burger Prospect," the statement read.
The capping stack is now within 24 hours of the planned drill site as required under Arctic drilling regulations.
Shell will now be permitted to drill into oil bearing zones, but only at one of two sites at any one time due to strict environmental and safety regulations.
On May 11, 2015, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management gave Shell an initial green light to begin offshore oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea.
Environmental organizations decried the decision, arguing that drilling poses a grave risk to the region’s marine life, especially given the technical difficulties and environmental risks of extracting oil and gas from offshore Arctic fields.
Critics have also pointed out to the fact that Shell has not operated in the Chukchi Sea since 2012, when the company faced a number of safety and operational difficulties, including an oil rig running aground.