WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today made the following statement after Shell announced that it is revising its plans for the 2012-2012 exploration program, forgoing drilling into hydrocarbon zones this year:
“I’m disappointed with the news, but believe Shell has made the right decision, keeping safety paramount,” Sen. Murkowski said. “Arctic oil development is critical to the United States as we pursue independence from OPEC imports.”
“The events in the Middle East over the last week have underscored our urgent need to develop our own abundant oil and gas resources and Shell and others programs in the Chukchi and Beaufort are a fundamental part of that.”
In the revised plan, Shell will begin as many wells – known as ‘top holes’ – as time remaining in this season allows. The top holes drilled in the days and weeks ahead will be capped, in accordance with regulatory requirements, and will expedite work next season.
Shell reached its decision after the containment dome aboard the Arctic Challenger barge was damaged. This type of exploration activity stops well short of the geologic zones bearing oil and gas and, because there is no possible risk of an oil spill, may be done without a containment vessel on site.
Shell is expected to begin top hole drilling in the Beaufort Sea following the conclusion of the fall whale hunt.
The Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast contain an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the federal government.
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