Shell announced it received authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service for its planned 2012 exploration program in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas near Alaska.
The supermajor said the permit was specific for seals and whales. It authorizes Shell's planned exploration plan as long as those species won't be affected. It requires a mitigation plan should damage occur.
"Shell has executed responsible offshore programs in Alaska for several years with no known negative impacts to the environment, marine mammals or local communities," Pete Slaiby, vice president for Shell Alaska, said in a statement.
"We look forward to continued success on that front and to working with regulators to secure the remaining permits needed to work in the Alaska offshore."
The U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement approved Shell's 450-page oil-spill response plan for work in the arctic.
Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace has protested Shell's plans for arctic waters off the coast of Alaska. It said it's received nearly 500,000 letters in opposition to Shell's planned exploration campaign.