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Murkowski Receives Assurances Permits will be Issued Today

NOAA Approves Permits to Allow Seismic and Survey Work in Chukchi and Beaufort this Summer

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today received assurances from federal officials that permits for planned oil and gas exploration in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas would be issued in time for work to occur this summer.  

In discussions Friday between Murkowski's office and the office of Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Jane Lubchenco, Murkowski's office was told permits to allow Statoil and Shell to conduct separate offshore seismic testing would be issued by the end of the day.

"Despite repeated setbacks, I'm glad to see that work will be able to proceed in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas this summer," Murkowski said. "The seismic testing planned by these companies will help define the resource potential of the Arctic."

Shell and Statoil have been waiting for permits from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to begin preliminary work in Alaska's northern waters. Those plans were thrown into question when a federal judge temporarily blocked development because of incomplete environmental work by the Minerals Management Service, the agency in charge of offshore oil and gas development. The judge this week clarified his earlier ruling, making clear that seismic and survey work that had been previously approved could go forward.

Statoil and Shell currently have vessels anchored in Dutch Harbor waiting to move to the companies' leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. The companies needed to receive the relevant permits by today in order to get their crews into position in time to work in conjunction with a temporary pause in subsistence whaling on the North Slope.

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