Shell moved one step closer to resuming its $6 billion quest for crude in the Arctic on Monday, with the Obama administration’s approval of its broad plan for exploratory oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska.
A petition filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission represents a novel bid by Arctic drilling foes to highlight the risks of the activity — going beyond potential environmental perils to the financial factors that might be more persuasive to shareholders.
The Obama administration is quadrupling its estimate of how much crude could be harvested from Arctic drilling leases it sold oil companies six years ago. Regulators also think there is a 75 percent chance of at least one large spill occurring in the area.
Oil companies hoping to find crude under Arctic waters north of Alaska are imploring the Obama administration to ensure new rules governing drilling in the region don’t force them to stash emergency equipment nearby nor block them from using chemical dispersants to clean up any spills.
Shell’s troubled quest for Arctic oil in 2012 — now capped with a $1.1 million fine for environmental violations — will make the company better prepared to return to the region, a spokesman said Friday.
A top Democratic lawmaker is questioning whether financial concerns drove Shell to send the Kulluk drilling rig on its ill-fated two-week trek across the predictably stormy Gulf of Alaska in late December.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday rapped Shell Oil Co., for violating the terms of air pollution permits governing emissions from its drilling rigs and support vessels operating in Arctic waters last year.
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