Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell has announced that it will halt its exploration drilling activity in Alaska’s Arctic seas in 2013.

In a press statement, Shell said it will suspend drilling in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas to arrange its equipment, with plans to resume activity at a later stage.

Shell Upstream Americas director Marvin Odum said the company has made progress in Alaska, but wants to pursue the long-term programme in a safe and measured way.

"Our decision to pause in 2013 will give us time to ensure the readiness of all our equipment and people following the drilling season in 2012," Odum added.

"Shell remains committed to building an Arctic exploration programme that provides confidence to stakeholders and regulators, and meets the high standards the company applies to its operations around the world."

"In 2012, the company completed top-hole drilling on two wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas."

The company said securing access to energy resources in Alaska will require special knowledge, technology and an in-depth understanding of the region’s environment.

Shell said it will continue to use its wide experience in Arctic and sub-Arctic environments to get ready to begin safe activities in Alaska.

In 2012, the company completed top-hole drilling on two wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

At the end of same year, one of Shell’s drilling rigs, Kulluk, ran aground in the shallow water off Sitkalidak Island in the Gulf of Alaska after drifting in stormy weather.

Shell said that Kulluk and the second drilling rig, the Noble Discoverer, will be towed to locations in Asia for maintenance and repairs.

Shell invested more than $4.5bn to explore oil in Alaska’s Arctic seas, since it secured licences to drill in 2005, reported Reuters.

Image: Royal Dutch Shell head office, Carel van Bylandtlaan, The Hague. Photo courtesy of P.L. van Till.