Monday, September 28, 2015

Shell Suspends Offshore Alaska Drilling

By Mark Edward Nero

Shell Oil on September 28 said it is indefinitely suspending exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future due to a lack of oil and gas found in its Burger J exploration well.

The Burger J exploration well, located in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, is about 150 miles from Barrow, Alaska, in about 150 feet of water. Shell drilled the well to a total depth of 6,800 feet this past summer in a basin located in an area equivalent to half the size of the Gulf of Mexico.

Shell said it found indications of oil and gas in the Burger J well, but they are “not sufficient to warrant further exploration” in the Burger prospect. The well is to be sealed and abandoned in accordance with US regulations, the company said.

“Shell continues to see important exploration potential in the basin, and the area is likely to ultimately be of strategic importance to Alaska and the US,” Shell Upstream Americas Director Marvin Odum said in a statement. “However, this is a clearly disappointing exploration outcome for this part of the basin.”

Shell is now ceasing further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future, a decision that the company says reflects both the Burger J well result plus the high costs associated with the project and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.

Shell’s drilling fleet was the subject of protests during the spring and summer while it was moored and anchored within Puget Sound.