WASHINGTON - Royal Dutch Shell secured one of the last permits it needs to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean this summer, after proving to federal regulators that it can operate without harming whales and seals.
The company announced Wednesday that it had obtained a so-called incidental harassment authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service, clearing one of the last hurdles before it can begin exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.
Shell still needs to obtain approvals from the Interior Department and Fish and Wildlife Service before it gets the all-clear from the federal government.
Shell has been seeking approvals to drill in the Arctic Ocean for several years. Environmental groups have launched numerous objections, in part because they believe the oil company is ill-prepared to handle potential oil spills in the region's icy waters.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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