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Vol. 15, No. 46 Week of November 14, 2010
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

The Explorers 2010: Shell

Shell got close, but not close enough this year. Since coming back to the state in 2005, years of lawsuits have kept the Dutch major from drilling. The company resolved those efforts in 2010, only to see its exploration efforts stalled again by a federal moratorium in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Shell arrived in Alaska in the 1950s, exploring the Alaska Peninsula and the North Slope. It brought the Middle Ground Shoal field into production in Cook Inlet in the 1960s, but sold the field in 1998.

Shell returned to Alaska in 2005, picking up acreage in the Beaufort Sea and later a few state leases on the Alaska Peninsula. In early 2008, Shell bid $2.1 billion for 275 blocks in the Chukchi Sea, including areas where the company drilled in 1989 and 1990. In early 2009 Shell gave up its Alaska Peninsula acreage. Legal challenges over its Beaufort Sea plans led Shell to pare down its initial exploration program in the area. In spring 2010, Shell began mobilizing equipment to drill five wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. With the federal review of offshore drilling, though, those plans are on hold until at least 2011, and could be delayed even further if Shell doesn’t get approval by early next year.

Current exploration focus:

Northern Alaska: Shell is focused on Alaska’s outer continental shelf, and hopes to drill in the Sivulliq and Torpedo prospects on the west side of Camden Bay in the Beaufort Sea, and in the Burger, Crackerjack and Southwest Shoebill prospects in the Chukchi Sea in summer 2011. Both programs, though, require the approval of the federal government.



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