ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Nov. 5 (UPI) — The Shell oil corporation said it will decide within months whether to begin drilling for oil and gas off the Alaskan coast despite strong opposition.
The Anchorage Daily News said Thursday that environmentalists and Alaska North Slope officials are opposing possible Arctic drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
Scientists suspect the two seas may hold significant stores of oil and natural gas.
Shell has already spent more than $2 billion to obtain leases in the seas, but its plans to drill there were delayed the last two years by successful litigation by the officials and environmentalists.
The two drilling opponents allege drilling in the seas could lead to oil spills and negative impacts on the bowhead whale population in the surrounding area.
Despite such delays, Shell has readied equipment for possible drilling to begin next summer. Shell Alaska Vice President Peter Slaib said Wednesday a final decision on the matter should be determined by December or January.
The Daily News said key to Shell’s drilling plans is whether the company can obtain federal air pollution permits for drilling.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International