It has been revealed that Royal Dutch Shell’s revised drilling plan for exploring oil opportunities in the Arctic is now under formal review by the US Department of the Interior.
Though a decision does not have to made until 10th May, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has now begun proceedings. Public comments on environmental factors will be taken until 20thApril, whilst comments on the overall plan can be submitted until 1st May.
The Obama administration helped Shell clear an essential hurdle in upholding a 2008 Arctic lease sale late last month.
Having conducted a through environment analysis, the Department of the Interior lifted a suspension that had previously prevented Chukchi Sea leases. Secretary Sally Jewell stated: “The Arctic is an important component of the administration’s national energy strategy, and we remain committed to taking a thoughtful and balanced approach to oil and gas leasing and exploration offshore Alaska. This unique, sensitive and often challenging environment requires effective oversight to ensure all activities are conducted safely and responsibly.”
It was in 2007 that the Environmental Impact Statement for Lease Sale 193 was originally published; however, several legal challenges meant that the federal court remanded the lease sale back to the BOEM for further analysis.
BOEM’s director for the Alaska area, Dr James Kendall, said that Shell’s revised plan would be heavily scrutinised to ensure it meets all the regulatory and environmental standards. He added that stakeholders and the public are welcome to review the plans and submit comments prior to the final decision being made.