Marvin Odum, director of upstream operations for Shell, said the company was halting its Alaskan exploration campaign for the year to prepare equipment for later work.
"Our decision to pause in 2013 will give us time to ensure the readiness of all our equipment and people following the drilling season in 2012," he said in a statement.
Shell's drilling program in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas last year was hampered by equipment failures and weather-related delays. Its drillship Kulluk struck ground off the coast of Alaska in early January.
Radford said Shell's decision amounts to an admission that those echoing concerns about oil and natural gas exploration in arctic waters were right.
"This is the first thing Shell's done right in Alaska -- calling it quits," he said in a statement. "Shell was supposed to be the best of the bes, but the long list of mishaps and near-disasters is a clear indication even the 'best' companies can't succeed in arctic drilling."
Odum said the region still has attractive potential for his company, which remains committed to drilling there.
"We continue to believe that a measured and responsible pace, especially in the exploration phase, fits best in this remote area," he said.