WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) -- Washington recognizes the strategic importance of untapped oil reserves off the coast of Alaska, an executive from Shell said.
Shell aims to launch a drilling campaign in the coming months in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off the Alaskan coast after having its oil-spill response plan approved by federal regulators.
Shell President Marvin Odum told the Platts news service the importance of oil reserves offshore Alaska is well-understood by the White House.
"It's recognition of how strategically important Alaska is and offshore Alaska is to the U.S. and to U.S. energy security," he said.
Odum said there may be as much as 25 billion barrels of oil off the Alaskan coast.
"I think what we see in the administration is recognition that this is a strategic resource and it's one that, if we're convinced we could do it the right way, it should be developed," he added.
Environmental groups have expressed concern about the potential damage to the arctic ecosystem during energy development off the Alaskan coast.