Shell faces uncertain Alaskan future

Feb. 13, 2013 at 6:25 AM

JUNEAU, Alaska, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A spokesman for Shell said the company hasn't made a final decision on exploration plans offshore Alaska following issues reported with drilling rigs.

Shell's drillship Kulluk ran aground off Alaska while being towed to Seattle in December. The grounding followed a 2012 exploration season in the arctic waters of Alaska that was complicated by equipment failures and extreme weather.

Shell spokesman Jonathan French was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying there were reservations about a 2013 campaign.

"We have not made any final decision on 2013 drilling," he said. "Shell remains committed to safely exploring for Alaska's offshore energy resources."

The U.S. Interior Department last year signed off on Shell's exploration plans for the arctic waters off northern Alaska.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, however, last month ordered a two-month review of Shell's work in Alaska, saying recent missteps may prevent offshore work there this year.

Shell's drillships designated for offshore Alaska will be sent to Asian shipyards for further service.

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