Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said that the company has until late September to drill before gathering ice makes it too hard to do so.
Shell halted Arctic drilling in 2012 after a rig ran aground, helping prompt the Obama administration to revisit US rules for exploration activities in the region.
Shallow drilling operations had previously begun – above any oil targets – as Shell worked to maximise its chances in what is, due to the harsh environment, a short operating window.
According to an analysis from the Department of Interior, there is a 75 percent chance of a spill greater than 1,000 barrels should an oil company like Shell discover and fully produce oil in the Chukchi leases.
Shell executives have said actual oil production would not begin for at least 10 years after exploratory work is completed.
“The President has seen how big the movement to save the Arctic and to keep fossil fuels in the ground has become, and it’s only going to get bigger if he doesn’t put a stop to this catastrophic plan”, Leonard said.
Clinton signaled in July that she was skeptical of the decision, telling a reporter in New Hampshire that she had “doubts about whether we should continue drilling in the Arctic”. The equipment had been sent to Portland, OR for repairs; it is now on site on the MSV Fennica, an icebreaker.
“Now that the required well control system is in place and can be deployed, Shell will be allowed to explore into oil-bearing zones”. Obama has consistently defended the idea of drilling there despite potential risks, saying Shell had taken additional precautions under pressure from federal regulators. Monday’s approval of Arctic oil drilling comes a few days after the White House announced that President Obama’s upcoming visit to Alaska and the Arctic would focus on his push to fight climate change. Amid early 2015 opposition to Shell’s regional program, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said his state is facing a $3.5 billion deficit.
Baldino wrote that Shell has also applied to modify its permit for Burger V to drill to oil-bearing depths. Shell believes that the efforts and money on drilling will be justified, once it will successfully discover oil in the region.
Clinton has been at President Barack Obama’s side with the large majority of his policies throughout his terms.