Shell's Arctic Operations: US Government Launches Probe

Press Release
Thursday, January 10, 2013

Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salaza, launches review of the 2012 offshore drilling program in the Beaufort & Chukchi Seas.

The expedited, high-level assessment of the 2012 offshore drilling program in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas is to review practices and identify challenges as well as lessons learned. The review, which is expected to be completed within 60 days, will pay special attention to challenges that Shell encountered in connection with certification of its containment vessel, the Arctic Challenger; the deployment of its containment dome; and operational issues associated with its two drilling rigs, the Noble Discoverer and the Kulluk.

The review is consistent with the Administration’s commitment to safe and responsible exploration for energy resources in the Artic and will help inform future permitting processes in the region. The United States Coast Guard will provide technical assistance for the review.

“Developing America’s domestic energy sources is essential for reducing our dependence on foreign oil and creating jobs here at home and the Administration is fully committed to exploring for potential energy resources in frontier areas such as the Arctic,” said Salazar. “Exploration allows us to better comprehend the true scope of our resources in the Arctic and to more fully understand the nature of the risks and benefits of development in this region, but we also recognize that the unique challenges posed by the Arctic environment demand an even higher level of scrutiny.


The review of Shell’s Arctic activities will be led by Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy Beaudreau, who has been selected to serve as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. The review will look at Shell’s safety management systems, its oversight of contracted services, and its ability to meet the strict standards in place for Arctic development.

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