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Feds approve first oil exploration in Arctic federal waters since Shell

It’s the first oil exploration in Arctic federal waters since Shell abandoned its campaign in 2015.

The company, Eni, aims to begin drilling in December. It will operate from an existing man-made gravel island called Spy Island. Spy Island is about three miles offshore, in state waters west of Prudhoe Bay.

The prospect is about four miles away from the island, so Eni plans to use extended-reach drilling. According to the company, it will be be the longest extended-reach well in Alaska.

Eni already produces about 20,000 barrels of oil per day from its facilities on state land. If the exploration in federal waters goes well, Eni thinks it could double production.

Eni secured its leases before the Obama administration’s decision last year to remove the Arctic Ocean from new oil and gas leasing for five years. The Trump administration is currently reconsidering that decision.

In a statement, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Alaska Region director Mark Fesmire said, “Exploration must be conducted safely and responsibly in relation to the Arctic environment and we will continue to engage Eni as they move forward with drilling its exploratory well.”

At least one environmental group is worried about the approval.

“Offshore drilling threatens coastal communities and wildlife and will only push us deeper into the climate crisis,” Kristen Monsell of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement.


Voice of America: Trump Administration Permits ENI to Drill for Oil Off Alaska

Archive articles
ARTICLE: US Interior Sec: We won’t let Shell screw up Arctic drilling: 18 March 2013 ARTICLE: David Lawrence, Shell Exec VP responsible for Arctic Exploration Fired?: 21 March 2013


ARTICLE: Shell says Kulluk left Dutch Harbor to avoid taxes: 25 May 2013


ARTICLE: BP fights to halt ‘bogus’ gulf claims: 7 July 2013

ARTICLE: Shell dicing with disaster in US Arctic waters: 18 December 2013

ARTICLE: Financial calamity could engulf Shell in event of an Arctic Disaster: 18 April 2014

ARTICLE: Arctic Drilling: a spectacular failure of good judgment by Shell: 10 October 2014

ARTICLE: Ann Pickard, Shell VP for Arctic drilling, is not a safe pair of hands: 24 May 2015

ARTICLE: Feds rap Shell for poor planning in botched tow of 2012 Arctic drilling rig: 28 May 2015

ARTICLE: Arctic blowout clean-up costs could exceed Shell’s financial resources: 29 May 2015

ARTICLE: Former Shell worker says rush to prepare for Arctic drilling resulted in unsafe conditions: 19 June 2015

ARTICLE: Shell returns to Unalaska with first of 27 strong fleet arriving: 19 June 2015

ARTICLE: Shell’s blowout response tests hailed a success: 20 June 2015

REUTERS ARTICLE: Shell pulls the plug on Arctic exploration: 28 Sept 2015

BBC NEWS ARTICLE: Shell has made a costly call to abandon Alaska: 28 Sept 2015

BLOOMBERG.COM ARTICLE: Why Shell Quit Drilling in the Arctic: 28 Sept 2015

FT ARTICLE: Shell’s Arctic defeat ends dream of new frontier: 28 Sept 2015

TELEGRAPH ARTICLE: Emma Thompson joins Greenpeace to celebrate Shell scrapping Arctic drilling: 28 Sept 2015

THE ECONOMIST: A rig too far: 3 Oct 2015

ABC News: Shell boss confronts environmental, carbon challenges: 3 Oct 2015 and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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