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U.S. Regulators to Widen Environmental Assessment in Chukchi Sea, Further Thwarting Shell

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Shell has already scrapped any hope of drilling for oil under Alaska’s Chukchi Sea this year, but now any attempt is officially off-limits until at least October, when the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement says its environmental assessment will be done, The Wall Street Journal reported on March 4.

The review has been expanded to include analysis of a “Very Large Oil Spill” scenario that was not included previously but that Native Alaskans and other groups had agitated for in fighting the drilling.

"Shell would be very disappointed with further delays in the regulatory process," company spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh told The Wall Street Journal on March 4. "Shell's plans for exploring offshore Alaska incorporate unprecedented oil spill response capabilities, including dedicated at-site vessels, a containment system, and relief well rigs."

Besides the offshore drilling permits, Shell needs an air permit and is contending with continuing litigation related to the environmental review, the Journal said.

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