Nobel Discoverer

Shell has announced that it will to stop exploration activity in Arctic waters offshore Alaska after disappointing results from drilling at an exploratory well.

Shell recently drilled the Burger J exploration well in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea to a total depth of 6,800ft.

The well is 150 miles from Barrow, Alaska, in around 150ft of water.

Shell said that the indications of oil and gas found in the Burger J well are not sufficient to carry out further exploration in the Burger prospect.

Following disappointing results, the company plans to seal and abandon the well in accordance with US regulations and operations will continue to de-mobilise personnel and equipment from the Chukchi Sea safely.

Shell Upstream Americas director Marvin Odum said: "The Shell Alaska team has operated safely and exceptionally well in every aspect of this year’s exploration programme.

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"Shell continues to see important exploration potential in the basin, and the area is likely to ultimately be of strategic importance to Alaska and the US. However, this is a clearly disappointing exploration outcome for this part of the basin."

Shell’s decision reflects the Burger J well result and the high costs associated with the project.

"This is a clearly disappointing exploration outcome for this part of the basin."

Commenting on Shell’s announcement WWF polar programme manager Rod Downie said: "Today the Arctic has seen a reprieve from Shell’s irresponsible drilling. Their reckless $7bn pursuit of oil in this fragile icy habitat puts local people and wildlife such as polar bears at risk.

"Shell should now set out to concerned shareholders and the public how it intends to transition its business model to one which is compatible with tackling climate change."

Shell holds a 100% working interest in Chukchi Sea’s 275 Outer Continental Shelf blocks.

In July, the firm received conditional approval from the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) for its two applications for permits to drill (APD) to conduct exploratory drilling activities in the Chukchi Sea under rigorous safety requirements.

Image: Drilling unit Noble Discoverer. Photo: courtesy of Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.