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January 12, 2012 --- Vol. 18, No. 4January 2012

EAB upholds Shell Noble Discoverer air permits for Chukchi and Beaufort

The Environmental Appeals Board today announced that it has rejected appeals against the issuance by the Environmental Protection Agency of air quality permits for Shell’s use of the drillship Noble Discoverer for exploration drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, starting in 2012.

“Achieving usable permits from the EPA is a very important step for Shell and one of the strongest indicators to date that we will be exploring our Beaufort and Chukchi leases in July,” said Shell spokesman Curtis Smith in an email press release in response to the EAB announcement. “That our air permits for the Noble Discoverer withstood appeal is a testament to the robust nature of the work we have done to have the smallest possible impact on the Arctic air shed and further validates that Shell is a company uniquely positioned to deliver a world-class drilling program in the Alaska offshore.”

Although Shell now has air permits for the use of the Noble Discoverer in both the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea, the company has been planning to use this particular drillship in the Chukchi. The company plans to drill in the Beaufort Sea using its floating drilling platform, the Kulluk. A separate appeal against an EPA air permit for the Kulluk was launched after the Noble Discoverer permit appeal and is still under review by the EAB.

“The validation of Shell’s first air quality permits is almost the end of what has been a long and exhaustive process,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski in response to the EAB announcement. “I’m relieved that the EPA’s internal appeals board chose here not to drag out the process any further, and I hope that the permits for Shell’s second drillship, the Kulluk, are similarly confirmed in a timely manner.”

See story in Jan. 22 edition, available online at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 20 at www.PetroleumNews.com

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