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Shell moves forward in Gulf, Arctic

Aug. 4, 2011 at 9:31 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Shell has received approval from U.S. regulators for a development well in the Gulf of Mexico and exploration in the Beaufort Sea.

The well in the gulf is to be in water 4,000 feet deep 140 miles southeast of New Orleans, The Washington Post reported Thursday. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, an agency of the Interior Department, gave the well a permit.

Shell plans to drill two wells in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska next summer and possibly three more wells in the Chukchi Sea to the west. The bureau gave the plan a conditional okay.

Drilling in the gulf has been problematic since last year's BP oil spill, with the American Petroleum Institute accusing the Obama administration of not getting drilling back to pre-spill levels.

EarthJustice, an environmental group, slammed Shell's Arctic plans, saying spills can be worse in the region because of low temperatures. The bureau has taken "a dangerous and disappointing leap toward drilling in the remote and fragile waters of America's Arctic Ocean," the group said.

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