Ice forces Shell off Alaskan prospect

Sept. 11, 2012 at 6:28 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Shell announced that it was moving off an oil prospect in the Chukchi Sea to avoid sea ice that may affect the area.

The company announced this week that its Noble Discoverer drilling ship started operations at its Burger-A prospect in the Chukchi Sea. However, in an update to its operations, however, the company said it was moving off the well to avoid sea ice that was potentially moving into the area.

"Once the ice moves on, the Noble Discoverer will re-connect to anchors and continue drilling," the company said in a statement. "Shell uses a combination of satellite images, radar and on-site reconnaissance to monitor ice movement."

The company had described the operation as "historic," noting it's the first time drillers targeted the area in more than 20 years.

The company requested an extension to the drilling season in Alaska beyond a Sept. 24 deadline that was based on the 38-day timeframe that Shell would need to respond to an oil spill if it occurred. The company said its forecasts indicate ice would stay at bay longer than the government estimates.

Shell invested at least $4 billion and six years in planning its Alaskan campaign.

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