Yesterday was a big step for Artic oil exploration as two Shell drilling ships and support vessels left Seattle for the Artic. The ships are heading north to begin exploration of the Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s north coast and the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast.
Given the extremely low temperatures of the Artic the window for oil and gas exploration is very small, which was why it was extremely important Shell begins this summer. This is also why it is extremely important the Department of Interior issue all the necessary permits this summer. Any additional delay will force Shell to wait until next summer, costing us a chance to develop key domestic oil and gas resources.
Earlier this week Interior Secretary Salazar said that the department is “highly likely” to greenlight the permits and also said he is “confident and comfortable” that Shell can drill safely. The Secretary went on to say he believes the approved plan will stand up to any lawsuits from environmental groups.
We hope that the department will move forward and approve all remaining permits as soon as possible so Shell can begin exploration. This is an important step for energy development in the artic. We need to do more to develop domestic sources of energy and today is a step in the right direction.