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Royal Dutch Shell Arctic Challenger Sets Sail for Alaska

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Bidness Etc takes a look at the first vessel in Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet setting off for Alaska

By: MICHEAL KAUFMAN: Jun 12, 2015 

According to oil giant Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) the first vessel in its Arctic drilling fleet, The Arctic Challenger, has set sail from Washington state to Alaska. The fleet intends to conduct exploration for oil and gas in the Arctic region in the summer season. Shell spokeswoman Megan Baldino informed that The Arctic Challenger had departed Bellingham for the Dutch Harbor in Unalaska off mainland Alaska, Reuters reports. There are several support vessels that will head for the Arctic region, along with drilling rigs to explore for oil in July. The drilling will take place in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

Environmentalists had been protesting against the proposed drilling in the region for weeks. At one point they had even surrounded Shell’s mobile oil drilling rig, The Polar Pioneer, on Kayaks to register their disapproval of drilling for oil in the Arctic. Now the activists have declared that they will form a flotilla to stop the rig from leaving Seattle’s Elliot Bay for the Arctic. The drilling rig had been anchored at the Port of Seattle.

The environmental groups are concerned over the risks of oil exploration in the Arctic, that includes the risk of an oil spill in the remote region, which they believe would be extremely hard to cleanup. Activists also oppose Shell’s plans for the impact it would have on climate change. In its defense Shell has said that it has the capability to drill safely and that in the event of an oil spill it would be able clean up close to 95% of it, Reuters reports.

Drilling in the Arctic is a difficult and dangerous undertaking. Oil exploration can only be carried out for two to three months in the summer season, as it is the only time when the ice clears enough for drilling to take place. In 2012 Shell had to abort its Arctic drilling plans after its rig got grounded, and even now it has to obtain approval for a number of federal permits before it can resume its exploration activities in the Arctic region.

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