Shell announced today that it has decided to forego its planned 2008 Beaufort Sea drilling program because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has not yet ruled on a lawsuit over Shell’s Beaufort Sea exploration plans. The company had planned to do some top-hole drilling at its Sivulliq prospect on the west side of Camden Bay during the summer open-water season.
“Shell believes this is the responsible decision given the continuing uncertainty and need for our workers and contractors to pursue other opportunities,” Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said, in announcing the decision.
The company will proceed with other offshore activities, including scientific baseline studies, marine mammal monitoring and data gathering, Smith said. And seismic acquisition in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas will continue as planned, he said.
The program that will continue in 2008 will require hundreds of contract personnel, including marine mammal observers, subsistence advisors and call center operators, most of whom are Alaskans, Smith said.
The 9th Circuit lawsuit involves an appeal by the North Slope Borough, the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission and several environmental organizations against MMS approval of Shell’s exploration plan. That appeal has resulted in a court injunction on Shell’s Beaufort Sea drilling activities until the case is settled. The court heard oral arguments in December but has yet to issue a ruling.
See full story in June 29 issue of Petroleum News, available to subscribers online at noon Friday, June 27, at www.PetroleumNews.com