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November 04, 2008 --- Vol. 14, No. 102November 2008

Shell asks court to lift injunction against Beaufort Sea drilling

Shell Offshore Inc. has requested the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to lift its injunction against the company’s planned exploration drilling in the Beaufort Sea. The court has yet to rule on an appeal against the U.S. Minerals Management Service’s approval of Shell’s Beaufort Sea exploration plan. On Aug. 14, 2007, the court placed the temporary injunction on the Beaufort Sea drilling until the appeal case was settled.

In a motion filed with the court on Oct. 30 Shell says that it wants to drill two specific Beaufort Sea exploration wells at the Sivulliq prospect on the western side of Camden Bay during the 2009 open water season, using the Kulluk floating drilling platform.

By naming specific drilling sites the company says that it has eliminated one of the objections to the drilling plans — the uncertainty about where the drilling would actually occur. The company also says that the use of just one drilling vessel, rather than the two vessels designated for the planned 2007 drilling season, removes another of the objections to the drilling.

Shell said that a heightened public interest in offshore oil and gas exploration is shifting the “balance of hardships” towards favoring the approval of exploration.

Because of the court injunction Shell had to abandon its plans for drilling in the Beaufort Sea in 2007 and 2008. In a declaration accompanying the Oct. 30 Shell motion to the court, Chandler Wilhelm, exploration manager for Shell Exploration and Production, said that the company would not be able to recover the nearly $300 million that it had already committed to its exploration plan if the drilling program is further delayed.

See full story in Nov. 9 issue of Petroleum News, available to subscribers online at noon, Friday, Nov. 7, at www.PetroleumNews.com

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