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Curtis Smith

(AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey, S.A. Sonsthagen)

Obama administration delivers big blow to Shell’s Arctic drilling plans

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The Fish and Wildlife Service said it could not authorize sound from Shell’s planned drilling of wells roughly nine miles apart to disturb walruses in the Chukchi Sea, because a 2013 requirement mandates a 15-mile buffer zone.
The Polar Pioneer, a drilling rig contracted by Shell for Chukchi Sea exploration in 2015, is transported across the Pacific on the heavy-lift vessel Blue Marlin. (Photo: Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace)

Sea ice could keep Shell away from the Arctic until mid July

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Even if Shell wins all federal permits to drill in the Chukchi Sea this summer, sea ice could block it from launching the work until late July.
Seattle's skyline provides the backdrop for the Transocean Polar Pioneer, while it is being loaded with supplies in the city's port in May 2015. Shell plans to use the rig this summer to bore an exploratory oil well at its Burger prospect in the Chukchi Sea, about 70 miles northwest of the Alaska coast. A separate drillship, the Noble Discoverer, is set to work on another Burger well at the same time. (Jennifer A. Dlouhy / The Houston Chronicle)

Shell’s Arctic drilling plans may hit permitting snag

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It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether the restriction highlighted by environmentalists opposed to Shell’s Arctic drilling campaign would derail the company’s plans, but it could be a major stumbling block.
The capping stack -- part of Shell's "Arctic Containment System" for a blown-out well -- is tested in waters near Washington state. Here, it is lifted by an A-frame before being lowered 150 feet into the water. (Photo: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement)

Feds say Shell completed test for blown-out well response ahead of Arctic drilling

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The exercises, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday in waters near Washington state, focused on Shell’s capping stack, designed to sit atop a damaged well and choke off flowing oil and gas.
Seattle's skyline provides the backdrop for the Transocean Polar Pioneer, while it is being loaded with supplies in the city's port in May 2015. Shell plans to use the rig this summer to bore an exploratory oil well at its Burger prospect in the Chukchi Sea, about 70 miles northwest of the Alaska coast. A separate drillship, the Noble Discoverer, is set to work on another Burger well at the same time. (Jennifer A. Dlouhy / The Houston Chronicle)

Shell drilling rig leaves Seattle for Alaska waters

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Tugboats are pulling a Shell-contracted Arctic drilling rig around protesters in Puget Sound, as the Polar Pioneer begins its long trek to Alaska.
A drilling rig under contract to Shell arrives in Port Angeles, Washington en route to Alaska's Chukchi Sea, where Shell hopes to drill this summer. (Daniella Beccaria/seattlepi.com via AP, File) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; SEATTLE TIMES OUT; TV OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Court rules against environmentalists in endorsing feds’ handling of Arctic spill response plans

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Environmentalists said the ruling demonstrates federal policies need an update to ensure oil spill response plans get tougher scrutiny.
Activists who oppose Royal Dutch Shell's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean prepare their kayaks for the "Paddle in Seattle" protest on Saturday, May 16, 2015, in Seattle. (Daniella Beccaria/seattlepi.com via AP)

Environmental groups, Alaska residents suing Interior Department over Shell’s Arctic exploration plan

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The lawsuit argues that the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management gave a rushed, cursory review to Shell’s Chukchi Sea exploratory plan, in the process overlooking the risks from potential spills and increased drilling in the region.
U.S. Coast Guard image showing the Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig Kulluk aground off a small island near Kodiak Island on Jan. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)

Feds rap Shell for poor planning in botched tow of 2012 Arctic drilling rig

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The NTSB report comes at a pivotal time for Shell, which has asked federal regulators for permission to resume exploratory oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea as soon as July.
With the Olympic Mountains in the background, the Polar Pioneer drilling rig arrives in Port Angeles, Wash., aboard a heavy-lift transport ship in April. Shell Oil Co. hopes to use the rig for exploratory drilling during the summer open-water season in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast, if it can get the permits. (Daniella Beccaria/seattlepi.com via AP, File)

Obama administration gives thumbs up to Shell’s Arctic drilling plans

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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.
Shell used the drillship Noble Discoverer for its 2012 drilling in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska.  (Jennifer A. Dlouhy / The Houston Chronicle)

Drilling in the Arctic could be more difficult, and costly, than Shell is letting on, environmentalists tell SEC

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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.