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Shell’s Alaska Oil Plan Contested by Village, Environment Groups

By Katarzyna Klimasinska – Sep 29, 2011 7:01 PM GMT+0100

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA)’s U.S. approval for oil exploration in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea will be contested by groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and an Inupiat village worried about the risk of spills.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, based in New York, and Point Hope, a settlement on Alaska’s North Slope, will sue the Obama administration for a decision allowing drilling in the Beaufort Sea, according to an e-mailed statement today from the groups.

The Hague-based company was cleared by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement on Aug. 4 to begin exploring in July 2012 and tap Arctic leases it bought in 2005 and later years, in which it has invested about $4 billion.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management doesn’t have a comment on the groups’ complaints, spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said in an e-mail today.

Shell’s plan for the Beaufort and Chuckchi seas, which are estimated to hold about 25 billion barrels of oil, have been delayed by environmental groups, North Slope residents and the administration, over concerns that a spill may kill polar bears and hurt bowhead whales, key to the North Slope subsistence lifestyle. A federal appeals court in 2007 halted Shell’s Chuckchi work in response to complaints from the groups.

Shell remains confident that the approval of the Beaufort exploration plan will be upheld in court, spokesman Curtis Smith said in an e-mail today.

— Editors: Steve Geimann, Judy Pasternak

To contact the reporter on this story: Katarzyna Klimasinska in Washington at [email protected];

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at [email protected]

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