Tuesday 27th September 2016                 Change text size:

Shell seeks Arctic drilling licence extension



Antarctic iceberg by NOAA's National Ocean Service via Flickr

Oil giant Shell is reportedly seeking an extension on a licence that allows the firm to drill in US Arctic water. The move is likely to be criticised by green and environmental groups.

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The letter, which was obtained by environmental NGO Oceana, requests that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement suspend leases retrospectively for the years the company was unable to drill exploration wells in the Arctic Ocean.

Oceana labelled the request as “questionable”, stating that the firm was aware of investment risks and shouldn’t be given special treatment.

Shell argues that the investments made in the Arctic operations cannot be recouped and the problems were unforeseen and not due to Shell’s action, such as proposed new regulations and accommodating native whaling. As a result, the firm believe is seeking to extend its drilling licences beyond 2017.

Susan Murray, Oceana’s deputy vice president, commented, “Though this letter is somewhat shocking in its tone and request, we are, unfortunately, no longer capable of being surprised by either Shell’s efforts to skirt the rules or the company’s inability to recognise its own role in failing to complete planned exploration activities in Arctic waters.”

Murray added, “Shell spent billions of dollars fully aware of the risks to that investment, and the government should not bend the rules to allow the company to continue business as usual.  Shell deserves no special treatment and, to the contrary, has a track record of irresponsible choices that warrants close scrutiny and the highest standards.”

Responsible investment charity ShareAction has previously warned that investors should be concerned that Shell is seeking increased regulatory flexibility for drilling in the Arctic.

Photo: NOAA’s National Ocean Service via Flickr 

Further reading:

ShareAction warns investors over Shell’s Arctic drilling plans

Shell suspends Arctic oil drilling plans

Court ruling a ‘massive blow’ to Shell’s Arctic oil ambitions

Greenpeace targets Lego over advertising relationship with Shell

Lego to end Shell partnership after anti-Arctic oil campaign


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