Following Aug. 14 oral arguments the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit today extended its stay on Shell’s drilling program in the Beaufort Sea, pending the court’s ruling on an appeal by the North Slope Borough and the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission against approval of Shell’s Beaufort Sea exploration plan by the U.S. Minerals Management Service. The petitioners in the appeal had asked the court to forbid Shell to drill until the court case was settled.
Shell had hoped to start drilling the Sivulliq prospect on the western side of Camden Bay at some time after Aug. 1., with drilling continuing through the open water season into the fall.
But opening briefs in the appeal are not due until Aug. 17, with answering briefs due on Sept. 26. Two other appeals, both by groups of environmental organizations, against MMS approval of the Shell exploration plan are also progressing through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the court has consolidated the briefing schedule for all of the cases.
Note: Watch for an update later today or tomorrow. The full story will be in the Aug. 19 issue of Petroleum News, which will be available online at noon on Friday at www.PetroleumNews.com