Oil company Shell announced today that it will seal and abandon its exploration well in the Chukchi Sea, and will end its controversial quest for oil in Alaskan waters.
The company drilled its first exploration well in Arctic waters this summer. The well, known as Burger J and located about 150 miles off of Barrow, Alaska, in an area known as the Burger prospect, reached a depth of 6,800 feet. The company cited poor production prospects as the reason for its move.
“Shell has found indications of oil and gas in the Burger J well, but these are not sufficient to warrant further exploration in the Burger prospect,” the company said in a statement. “Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future. This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.”
Environmental groups had vociferously opposed Shell’s Arctic drilling bid, as well as the Obama administration’s granting of a drilling permit to the company this spring. They argued, in part, that drilling in the remote and tempestuous waters of the Arctic posed too great a risk of an oil spill in a fragile ecosystem already changing rapidly due to climate change.
The summer brought a series of protests as Shell moved equipment into the Chukchi Sea.
Groups opposed to Arctic drilling reacted positively to the news.
“Today’s announcement marks a pivotal moment for the people and wildlife of the Arctic, and our climate. As one of the largest corporations to pursue Arctic oil and gas, Shell’s retreat from a $7 billion gamble sends an important message: Arctic drilling is too dangerous and too expensive and should be stopped altogether,” said Marissa Knodel of Friends of the Earth in a statement.