Shell halts Alaskan drilling for this year

Oil giant Shell said on Wednesday it will pause its exploratory drilling operations in the seas off Alaska to ‘prepare equipment and plans’ to restart work in the region at a later stage.

‘We’ve made progress in Alaska but this is a long-term programme we are pursuing in a safe and measured way’ the operation’s director Marvin Odum said in a statement.

Environmental group Greenpeace, which campaigns against drilling for oil and gas in the environmentally-sensitive area, welcomed the decision and said it showed the Anglo-Dutch oil company cannot deal with the tough conditions in the region.

‘Shell has been at this for seven years and has invested more than $4.5bn and after drilling for one year is not able to meet minimum safety standards,’ said campaign director Joris Thijssen.

At the beginning of this year, Shell was forced to take action after its drilling ship Kulluk broke loose while being towed in bad weather and stranded off the coast of Alaska.