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Mike LeVine

(Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement)

Obama administration gives OK to Shell to drill deeper in Arctic

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Shell has already been drilling the well for more than two weeks. But BSEE had ordered the company to halt after completing the top 3,000 feet, because critical emergency equipment were not nearby to safeguard the work.
Shell used the drillship Noble Discoverer for its 2012 drilling in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska.  (Jennifer A. Dlouhy / The Houston Chronicle)

Oil companies forfeit Arctic drilling rights

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Oil companies that had locked up more than 1.3 million acres of the Beaufort Sea for drilling in 2007 have since relinquished nearly half that territory, signaling the industry’s appetite for tapping those Arctic waters may be waning even as the Obama administration makes plans to auction off more of the area.
(AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)

Coast Guard blames 2012 Arctic rig grounding on bad decisions

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Coast Guard investigators on Thursday rapped Shell Oil Co. and its contractors for failing to heed the dangers of towing a drilling rig across stormy Alaska waters in late 2012 — a voyage that ended when it ran aground on New Year’s Eve.
Waves crash over the drilling unit Kulluk where it sat aground on the southeast side of Sitkalidak Island, Alaska, Jan. 1, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class/Jonathan Klingenberg.)

Shell announces return to Arctic in 2014 despite mishaps

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Shell officials on Thursday said the oil company plans to make another, dramatically scaled-back bid to find crude in Arctic waters, following a headline-grabbing 2012 season that left the firm with a devastated drilling rig, air pollution fines and embarrassing equipment failures. But there are major hurdles for Shell to restart its Arctic drilling operations in 2014.
Shell's Kulluk drilling rig, shown under tow in January 2013 after running aground in Alaska, must go to Asia for repairs.

Shell will repair rigs in Asia, possibly delaying Arctic work

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Two drilling vessels Shell used last summer for work in Alaska’s Arctic must go to Asia for repairs and maintenance, possible thwarting Shell’s plans to resume drilling this year.
Shell used the drillship Noble Discoverer for its 2012 drilling in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska.  (Jennifer A. Dlouhy / The Houston Chronicle)

EPA raps Shell for Arctic air violations

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

Interior launches broad probe of Shell’s Arctic drilling program

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The Obama administration ordered a broad review of Shell’s Arctic drilling program on Tuesday, following a series of mishaps that culminated when the company’s Kulluk rig ran aground on New Year’s Eve. The move calls into question whether Shell Oil Co. will be allowed to continue its hunt for crude under the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska, after spending $5 billion and more than six years on the quest.
Shell's Kulluk conical drilling unit departs Seattle for Dutch Harbor, Alaska in 2012. (Shell Oil Co.)

Shell takes key step on scaled-back Alaska drilling

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Shell on Tuesday began preparations to install anchors at the site of one of its planned wells in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska — a major step toward launching a new era of Arctic oil exploration, even as the company has been forced to scale back its drilling plans.