Royal Dutch Shell announced Wednesday that it will not drill in the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Alaska this year, declaring a cease-fire in one of the nation’s fiercest political battles over energy development and environmental protection.
Shell Oil President Marvin Odum described the decision not to conduct exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas as a “pause.”
“We’ve made progress in Alaska, but this is a long-term program that we are pursuing in a safe and measured way,” Odum said in a statement. “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.”
The company’s effort to tap oil and gas in the warming Arctic — an endeavor that has already cost more than $4.5 billion — has been riddled with problems during the past year. The Obama administration has allowed Shell to proceed with exploratory drilling in the Arctic — over the objections of environmentalists — but it has subjected the company to intense regulatory scrutiny.