USG Gives Shell Clear Sailing to Exploit the Arctic Ocean

For Immediate Release

Expert contact: Marissa Knodel, (202) 222-0724,
Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744,

USG Gives Shell Clear Sailing to Exploit the Arctic Ocean

WASHINGTON - The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement approved Shell’s final drilling permits, which was the final hurdle before the company can begin drilling exploration wells in the Chukchi Sea this summer. Shell can immediately begin drilling the top sections of two wells, but cannot drill down to where the oil and gas is located until the M/V Fennica, the ice breaker carrying the required capping stack for the wells, returns from receiving repairs to its damaged hull in Portland, Oregon. The permits also restrict Shell to drilling only one well at a time, due to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulation. The federal government found that there is a 75 percent chance of a large oil spill should drilling occur in the Arctic Ocean, yet the Bureau concluded that Shell is able to adequately respond should a spill occur, despite the treacherous and unpredictable conditions in the Arctic Ocean.

Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Marissa Knodel issued the following response:

Today’s approval ignores Shell’s dismal record of safety violations and undermines President Obama’s pledge to combat climate change. With this decision, President Obama has given Shell an open invitation to turn the Chukchi Sea into an energy sacrifice zone, threatening both the resilience of the American Arctic Ocean and his climate legacy. Shell will pollute the environment, threaten endangered species, impair the subsistence practices and livelihoods of coastal communities, and take us further down the path of climate disruption. Regardless, the fight to keep the Arctic Ocean off limits to Big Oil is not over, and climate activists will not let our future be dictated by Shell. The original oil and gas lease sale and Shell’s exploration plan violate the law and President Obama’s promise to leave a safe and healthy environment for future generations. President Obama should know better -- Shell has no business in our Arctic Ocean and the only path to a safe climate future is to leave Arctic Ocean oil and gas in the ground. President Obama will bear responsibility for the damage that Shell wreaks in the Arctic.


Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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