The Obama administration is today due to announce suspension of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic until next year as a result of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, an Alaska official said.

Democratic Senator Mark Begich said he was told by the Interior Department that the US Government will announce that consideration of any applications for exploratory drilling in the Arctic is suspended until 2011, reports Reuters.

The decision will suspend plans by Shell Oil to drill exploratory wells off Alaska this summer.

The suspension is part of measures President Barack Obama plans to order in response to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April.

The President is also expected to announce tougher safety requirements for offshore oil drilling and stronger inspections of oil rigs.

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