ARCTIC CIRCLE – After billions of dollars spent and years of regulatory hurdles, Shell finally began drilling here on Sunday, only to have to halt operations on Monday because of incoming sea ice.
The company announced yesterday that its Noble Discoverer drill ship had begun drilling into the Burger Prospect, roughly 70 miles off of the Alaskan Coast, when satellite imagery and other indicators caused the company to halt operations and move the ship to a safer location.
“We began monitoring this ice when it was more than 100 miles away,” said Shell in a press release. “The wind began to shift, and we made the call to disconnect.”
Shell hopes to again begin drilling shortly, as the company is working with a Sept. 24 deadline for leaving the Chukchi Sea imposed by its drilling permits. The Burger Prospect hole is projected to be 1,400 feet deep, a preparation for a deeper exploration well. The company cannot drill into an actual oil deposit until its oil spill containment vessel, the Arctic Challenger, is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard. The New York Times reports this may happen as soon as this week.