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Drilling Rules Hit Alaska Pipeline



JUNE 14, 2010


On May 27, President Barack Obama ordered a six-month offshore drilling moratorium in the wake of the April explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 workers and started oil gushing into the Gulf. The rig was leased by BP. The president also commissioned an independent panel to recommend new offshore energy regulations.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC was awaiting the Interior Department’s final approval to drill up to five offshore wells this year when the moratorium was put into effect. The ban effectively postpones any work in Alaska until at least next summer, as sea ice prevents winter drilling. Work could be pushed back to 2012 if the government extends the ban.

The oil spill has also rejuvenated a campaign by environmental groups and native coastal villagers to reduce the area of the Arctic open to oil exploration and overhaul drilling regulations. A few weeks before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the White House had expanded its plan to sell exploration leases in Arctic waters.

Write to Brian Baskin at [email protected] and Cassandra Sweet at [email protected]

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