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Begich Remains Dedicated to Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Drilling

Disappointed but not discouraged at Shell’s announcement to postpone summer work

 Senator Begich issued the following statement today in response to Shell Oil’s announcement that the company would not resume drilling in the Arctic this summer:

“I am very disappointed that Shell will not resume drilling operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas this summer.  However, I’ve always believed Alaska can develop OCS resources safely and responsibly and I remain committed to a robust offshore oil and gas program in the Arctic.  Off-shore drilling is critical for Alaska jobs and for the nation’s energy security.  Shell is still moving forward with its science and data collection this summer so Alaskans can feel reassured that jobs are still generated and that Shell will be even more prepared for the 2014 season.” 

Senator Begich has been a vocal supporter of OCS drilling and pushed the Obama administration to expedite the permitting process.  As a result, Shell Oil became the first producer in 20 years to initiate drilling operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska’s northern coast. 

The Chukchi and Beaufort Seas are estimated to hold more than 24 billion barrels of oil and 100 trillion cubic feet of gas which makes it one of the most promising areas in the world for oil and gas development.  Shell started exploratory drilling last summer but ran into a number of barriers.  Senator Begich said he will hold a hearing on Shell’s situation later this spring but still very much supports development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

*This version corrects factual errors regarding the drilling status of ConocoPhillips and Statoil.

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