Ice still delays Shell Arctic offshore drilling
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Persistent sea ice will keep a Royal Dutch Shell drill ship off a prospect in the Chukchi Sea until at least Monday, a spokesman for Shell Alaska said Friday.
A mass of ice 30 miles long and 12 miles wide continues to block the resumption of exploratory petroleum drilling 70 miles off the northwest coast of Alaska, Curtis Smith said by email.
Shell's ship, the Noble Discoverer, began drilling a pilot hole on the sea floor last Sunday. It's the first drilling work in U.S.-controlled Chukchi waters since 1991.
Work was halted hours later as the ice mass, up to 82 feet thick, was detected 105 miles away but moving toward the ship. Shell later completed the release of the vessel from its eight massive anchors and moved it 30 miles south to wait for the ice to clear.
The ice slowed to just 0.2 knots, or about 1/4 of a mile per hour, earlier this week. A low pressure system in southwest Alaska is expected to change that over the next two days, Smith said.
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