(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. government approved the final permit needed for Royal Dutch Shell to begin drilling in potential oil-bearing zones off the Alaska shoreline.
According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the company submitted its Application for Permit to Modify in order to conduct exploratory drilling on August 6. The application was approved Monday. The previous permit had restricted Shell’s drilling due to the lack of a capping stack — a piece of emergency response equipment used to shut a well in the event of a loss of control.
The new permit was approved in part because a capping stack is now available in the region and able to be deployed within one day, the BSEE says.
“Activities conducted offshore Alaska are being held to the highest safety, environmental protection, and emergency response standards,” BSEE Director Brian Salerno said.
Limitations on Shell’s drilling include a minimum spacing of 15 miles between active drill rigs to avoid impacting walruses in the region and staffing trained wildlife observers on all drilling units and support vessels.
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