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Shell Oil returns to Alaska waters

Anchorage Times: Shell Oil returns to Alaska waters

Voice of the Times
William J Tobin, Senior Editor
4/14/08     

THE QUIET VISIT by Shell Oil President John Hofmeister to four remote Alaska communities this winter is yet another indication that the energy giant is serious about developing oil and gas leases in northern offshore waters.

Hofmeister’s visits to Wainwright, Nuiqsut, Point Lay and Barrow took place in February and became public this week. Shell, the energy giant, has years of experience and great expertise in offshore operations. It is a major leaseholder in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, holds leases from a 2005  federal sale in the North Aleutian Basin area of Bristol Bay, and has indicated interest in other prospective oil and gas basins off Alaska.

The village visits were a diplomatic effort by the Shell president, who wants to develop positive relations with communities near its areas of interest. His trip was reportedly well received by leaders of the four communities.

If Shell’s offshore efforts are successful, the oceans could become major sources of oil and gas for both the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, where throughput is declining, and the planned Denali gas line announced this week by BP and ConocoPhillips.

Shell was once a major player in offshore areas of Cook Inlet, but left when prices and production levels there fell enough to make them marginally economic. It returned to the state several years ago with renewed interest and a resume as an offshore operator that is even stronger than the one it brought here in the 1960s.

Offshore exploration and development will face environmental challenges and the ever-present objections of green activists. Hopefully both challenges can be met and overcome.

The company maintains a relatively low profile here, but its operations hold tremendous promise for Alaska’s economic future. We wish it well in its new endeavors.
 
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