Shell scraps con­tro­ver­sial oil ex­plo­ration in Alaska

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An­glo-Dutch energy gi­ant Royal Dutch Shell has said that it had scrapped its con­tro­ver­sial off­shore ex­plo­ration in Alaska af­ter fail­ing to find suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ties of oil and gas.

Shell an­nounced that its Burger J well in the Chukchi Sea, off the north­west coast of Alaska, did not war­rant fur­ther ex­plo­ration, adding it would now stop its ac­tiv­i­ties in Alaskan wa­ters.

The energy ma­jor be­gan drilling in July, two months af­ter US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama au­tho­rised Arc­tic oil drilling, a de­ci­sion that in­fu­ri­ated en­vi­ron­men­tal groups.

“Shell has found in­di­ca­tions of oil and gas in the Burger J well, but these are not suf­fi­cient to war­rant fur­ther ex­plo­ration in the Burger prospect,” the Lon­don-listed group said.

“The well will be sealed and aban­doned in ac­cor­dance with US reg­u­la­tions.”

It added: “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.”

In re­ac­tion to Obama’s de­ci­sion in May, Green­peace de­nounced the US pres­i­dent and urged peo­ple to sign an online pe­ti­tion to block off­shore Arc­tic drilling.

Jus­ti­fy­ing his move to al­low Shell to drill in the area, Obama had de­scribed US oil pro­duc­tion an “im­por­tant” source of energy.

How­ever, Green­peace de­scribed oil drilling in the re­gion as a “ter­ri­ble mis­take” that could dam­age the frag­ile Arc­tic en­vi­ron­ment and po­ten­tially spark an eco­log­i­cal dis­as­ter.

The pres­sure group had vowed to fight Shell and urged Obama to stop the firm’s ex­plo­ration ac­tiv­i­ties in the re­gion.

Shell said that Alaska was still of ma­jor im­por­tance for the United States, but added it was dis­ap­pointed with its ex­plo­ration re­sults.

“The Shell Alaska team has op­er­ated safely and ex­cep­tion­ally well in ev­ery as­pect of this year’s ex­plo­ration pro­gram,” said Marvin Odum, di­rec­tor of Shell Up­stream Amer­i­cas.

“Shell con­tin­ues to see im­por­tant ex­plo­ration po­ten­tial in the basin, and the area is likely to ul­ti­mately be of strate­gic im­por­tance to Alaska and the US.

“How­ever, this is a clearly dis­ap­point­ing ex­plo­ration out­come for this part of the basin.”

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