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shore Alaska in 2014 because a US appeals court’s Jan. 22 decision in a 2008
lawsuit against the US Department of
the Interior has created significant uncertainties, company officials stated.
Royal Dutch Shell PLC will not resume
activity on federal leases it holds off-
“We took a pause in 2013 to prepare
for the next drilling season, we have
added additional people and resources
to the venture, we have updated our
plans with what we had learned from
2012, and we have worked very closely
with [Interior] and other government
agencies in the US,” Shell Chief Execu-
tive Ben van Beurden said in a Jan. 30
conference call with investors.
“However, we are frustrated by the
recent decision by the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals in what is a 6-year-
old lawsuit against the government,”
he continued. “The obstacles that were
introduced by that decision simply
make it impossible to justify the commitments of cost, equipment, and people that are needed to drill safely in
Alaska this year.
“We have to wait for the courts and
the US administration to resolve this
legal issue,” van Beurden said. “Given
all of this, we will not drill in Alaska
in 2014, and we are reviewing our op-
A three-judge panel in the Ninth
US Circuit appeals court ruled a por-
tion of the environmental impact state-
ments prepared prior to federal oil and
gas leasing off Alaska’s Arctic coast in
2008 was improperly prepared, and
sent the matter back to the district
court that heard the lawsuit for further
action (OGJ Online, Jan. 24, 2014).
But it was not immediately clear
what impact, if any, the court’s decision would have on Chukchi Sea leases
awarded to Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc.,
ConocoPhillips Co., and Statoil USA
E&P Inc. in OCS Lease Sale No. 193
on Feb. 6, 2008.
“The lack of a clear path forward and
an associated timeline makes it impossible to commit the resources needed to explore safely in 2014,” a Shell
spokesman in Alaska told OGJ on Jan.
30. “It’s frustrating to be put in this position as we felt we were making solid
Shell cancels 2014 drilling off Alaska in court decision’s wake