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Lloyds List: Court halts Beaufort Sea exploration

Published: Jul 24, 2007

ROYAL Dutch Shell has been forced to suspend its much anticipated Beaufort Sea exploration campaign by the US federal court, writes Martyn Wingrove.

Environmental groups and whalers have successfully stopped the Anglo-Dutch group from using drilling rigs in the Arctic seas offshore Alaska until mid-August, when the court sessions begin in San Francisco.

Shell planned to drill four exploration wells over the Sivulliq area of the Beaufort Sea, where oil was found in the 1980s, over summer to late-October.

Environmentalists hope drilling can be halted for all of this year, while Shell hopes it gets an early court ruling to drill part of its 2007 programme.

Shell’s key rival, ExxonMobil and its partner Imperial Oil gained a parcel of exploration licences last week from the Minerals Management Service, after bidding a $585m exploration work programme.

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