Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's largest oil company, was granted approval by Australian regulators to drill an exploration well Ningaloo Reef after the government opted against a more stringent environmental review. Found 1,200 kilometers off the coast of Perth, the Ningaloo Reef was designated with world heritage status by the United Nations earlier this year to bolster conservation efforts in the region.
Shell (RDS-A) will drill the Palta-1 well about 70 kilometers from the Ningaloo Reef, according to Bloomberg News. Earlier this year, Shell said it expected to commence drilling in the area by September.
Australia's Environment Department ordered the Anglo-Dutch oil giant to follow strict safety procedures and to follow environmental safety protocols. Australian regulators said the decision to allow Shell to drill in the Ningaloo Reef area is consistent with similar decisions made under the country's environmental laws.
Shell is one of the most active producers in Australia and last year said it plans to spend $50 billion on investments in the country over the next decade. The company is one of the largest producers of liquefied natural gas in Australia.