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Setback for Shell's Alaska campaign

Sept. 17, 2012 at 8:31 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Royal Dutch Shell announced Monday it was abandoning efforts to drill into hydrocarbon zones offshore Alaska because of oil spill response hurdles.

Shell last week said encroaching ice in the Chukchi Sea forced it to move its Noble Discoverer drilling ship off its Burger-A prospect. On Monday, the company said a containment dome for oil-spill response was damaged, forcing further delays.

"The time required to repair the dome, along with steps we have taken to protect local whaling operations and to ensure the safety of operations from ice floe movement, have led us to revise our plans for the 2012-2013 exploration program," a statement read. "In order to lay a strong foundation for operations in 2013, we will forgo drilling into hydrocarbon zones this year."

Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace welcomed the announcement as a victory for its fight to keep energy companies out arctic regions.

"This is a huge step forward in our campaign but we need to build on it to make sure we keep the arctic protected from all oil drillers, for good," Greenpeace stated.

Shell said it was expecting to start an exploratory drilling campaign in the Beaufort Sea in the coming days.

"This exploration program remains critically important to America's energy needs, to the economy and jobs in Alaska, and to Shell," the company said.

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