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Petroleum News: Shell stopped Chukchi operations Sept. 19

Shell has said that it has no interest in the lawsuit filed by ConocoPhillips over the 120-decibel monitoring zone for bowhead whale cow/calf pairs.

“We do not think it’s in Shell’s interests to pursue litigation,” Rick Fox, Shell’s asset manager for Alaska, told Petroleum News on Sept. 20.

Fox said that the company instead ended its Chukchi seismic program on Sept. 19, to avoid infringing the IHA stipulations.

He said that the operation of the required aerial surveys for the 120-decibel monitoring zone in a huge region without any support infrastructure would entail an unacceptably high safety risk for people. Shell has also not yet determined that passive acoustic monitoring would be practical in the Alaska seas.

“It’s mainly a question of the distances that you are required to monitor,” Fox said. “… We just didn’t see that it (acoustic monitoring) could be ready.”

Shell also evaluated the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and determined that that technology was not ready for the Chukchi.

Fox emphasized that the oil industry is just at the beginning of offshore development, saying that Shell is focusing on long-term relationships and a long-term investment in Alaska.

“Shell is committed to operating to the highest standards in the industry,” Fox said. “We work in a way that’s absolutely safe and protective of the environment … through consultation and we honor our commitments to the communities. That’s the bottom line for us here. … we work collaboratively with all Alaskans, seeking the solutions that are best for all.”

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