Shell Sees Alaska Drilling In 2012

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Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's largest oil company, said it expects to begin drilling in Alaska's area of the Arctic Circle next year after the project was delayed following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. The company said it will have a spill containment system in place designed especially for the project.

Shell (RDS-A) still has to obtain a number of permits from the federal government in order to go ahead with its $3.5 billion investment to drill in the state's Beaufort and Chukchi seas, according to the Wall Street Journal. The permit process and environmental groups have stood in the way of Shell starting the project.

Shell said it will wait until September to evaluate how far along the permit process before moving forward to deploy equipment in the summer of 2012. Shell is planning to have in place an oil-containment system specifically designed to work in the cold-climate conditions of the Arctic by the time drilling starts, the Journal reported.

In February, Shell said it was faced with the problem of perhaps having to pay another $150 million without even knowing if the EPA and Interior Department would grant it the necessary permits to commence drilling in Alaska. The company has already spent $3.5 billion to get the project moving.