Shell applies to drill deeper in Chukchi Sea

  • Exploration & Production

Oil company Shell has reportedly applied for permission to drill into the oil bearing zones of the Chukchi Sea, offshore Alaska.

The company, which kicked off drilling at its Burger J well in the Chukchi Sea on July 30, now wants to go deeper, hoping to uncover oil. The company is using two drilling rigs, the Polar Pioneer semi-submersible and the Noble Discoverer drillship for its Chukchi Sea operations.

Shell’s current licence allows it to drill in the area, but only pilot holes, and not into the oil-bearing zone, because Shell, at the time of the spudding, did not have a vessel with the capping stack available for emergency deployment at the well, as the MV Fennica vessel had been damaged.

The vessel, carrying the capping stack on board, has now been repaired and its AIS data shows it is on its way to the Chukchi Sea.

Shell applied for permission to drill into the oil-bearing zones on Thursday, Curtis Smith, Shell spokesmen told the Associated Press. He said the Fennica was expected to reach the drill site on Tuesday.

Offshore Energy Today has reached out to Shell, seeking more info about the expected date of approval of the application. We are yet to receive a response.

Shell has until late September to complete its drilling campaign in the Chukchi Sea, which has sparked outrage among environmentalists, who claim that a potential oil spill in the harsh environment of the Chukchi sea could be catastrophic.

In support of its campaign, Shell has cited a report by the US Geological Survey which claims that the Arctic holds around 30% of the world’s undiscovered natural gas, as well as 13% of its oil and 22% of its natural gas liquids also yet to be found.

This amounts to around 400 billion barrels of oil equivalent, 10 times the total oil and gas produced in the North Sea to date, writes Shell on its website.


In an e-mail sent to Offshore Energy Today on Tuesday, a Shell spokesperson said: “The Fennica is in the Chukchi Sea, drilling continues, and we have requested the permit to drill deeper in this exploration well.”

The spokesperson wouldn’t speculate on the timelines of the application approval.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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