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Shell files revised Arctic offshore drilling plan

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm •  Published: August 28, 2014
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell PLC has filed a revised Arctic offshore drilling plan with federal regulators but says the company hasn't decided whether to return to waters off the coast of northwest Alaska in 2015.

The revised exploration plan submitted to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in Anchorage calls for two drilling vessels to operate simultaneously in the Chukchi Sea rather than one in the Chukchi and one in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's north Coast.

The presence of two vessels is required so one can drill a relief well in the event of damage from a blowout.

Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc.'s revised plan calls for the return of the Noble Discoverer, which performed top hole work at the company's Burger prospect in 2012. The second drilling vessel planned for the Chukchi is the Polar Pioneer, owned by Transocean Ltd., said Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith.

"Today's filing is not a final decision to drill next summer, but it does preserve the option," he said by email.

In 2012, Shell drilled pilot holes and dug mudline cellars in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. The company was not allowed to drill into oil-bearing deposits because required response equipment was not on hand.

The company experienced problems in the challenging Arctic conditions, culminating with the drill vessel Kulluk running aground off an island near Kodiak as it was being towed across the Gulf of Alaska in stormy weather.

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