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Shell gets clean-air permit for Beaufort drilling

Anchorage Daily News / adn.com

Published: April 10th, 2010 07:28 AM

BEAUFORT SEA — Shell Oil has received a key clean-air permit for its planned drilling in the Beaufort Sea this summer.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday it will issue the permit for Shell’s drillship and support vessels. The decision came eight days after the EPA OK’d a similar permit for Shell’s planned drilling in the Chukchi Sea to the west.

Shell wants to drill three exploratory wells on the Arctic Ocean acreage it leased in 2008.

The U.S. Minerals Management Service estimates the two Arctic seas off Alaska’s northern coast could hold up to 19 billion barrels of oil and up to 74 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — making the region’s resource potential comparable to the known oil and gas from the North Slope’s onshore fields.

Shell faces other hurdles before it can drill.

Lawsuits are challenging MMS’s approval of Shell’s Chukchi exploration plan. The 2008 lease sale also is being challenged in Alaska District Court.

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