Senator Wants Arctic Drilling Coordinator

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U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said he would like to see a drilling coordinator put in place to ease the bureaucratic burdens faced by oil companies looking to drill in Alaska's area of the Arctic Circle, claiming regulators have put up unnecessary road blocks that make it difficult to launch new projects in the region.

''For too long, well before the current administration, federal agencies have erected roadblocks to that development,'' Begich said, according to the Associated Press. Begich has introduced legislation that would create a drilling coordinator's office with a cost of $2 million.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A), Europe's largest oil company, and ConocoPhillips (COP), the third-largest U.S. oil company, are among the oil majors looking to start new projects in Alaska.

Last week, Shell said it plans to start a drilling project in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas next year, but the company had hoped to start the project this year. That effort was derailed following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which intensified scrutiny on deepwater drilling projects.

Shell, which has spent $3.5 billion in preparation of drilling in Alaska, endorsed the Begich legislation. Alaska was the second-largest oil producing state behind Texas in 2009.

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