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U.S. To Allow Shell To Do ‘Preparatory’ Activities in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea

By Ryan Tracy: August 30, 2012

WASHINGTON–The U.S. Interior Department said Thursday it will allow Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA, RDSA.LN) to do ” preparatory” work on an oil well in the Chukchi Sea while still holding back on a final permit for drilling deep enough to find oil.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the company still has to meet “many outstanding requirements” before it can drill into rock formations that hold oil, but that the agency felt it was safe to allow the company to begin work on the well.

Shell has spent about $4.5 billion in its quest to drill the first wells in Arctic waters in 20 years.

It currently holds drilling permits that last until Sept. 24 in the Chukchi Sea and Oct. 31 in the Beaufort Sea, both off the Alaskan coast. It has already scaled back its drilling plans to one well at each location as a result of delays.

Write to Ryan Tracy at [email protected]

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