PORT ARTHUR, Texas - Royal Dutch Shell PLC hopes to be drilling for oil offshore Alaska by the summer, Chief Executive Peter Voser said Thursday.
The move to drill in Alaska's Beaufort Sea would help the oil giant gain advantage in the global race to tap Arctic energy resources. The plan is "progressing very well," Voser said. "With the support of regulators and local communities, we are working toward drilling by summer."
But Shell's plans to produce oil from the state's Arctic offshore has met resistance from environmental groups and some local communities worried that drilling there could damage the environment and that few emergency workers would be available in the sparsely populated region in case of an accident. Voser said that the company "had a comprehensive plan in place" to drill safely.
Shell isn't likely to buy assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s Permian Basin oil fields in West Texas, Voser said.
"Having more than 40 trillion cubic feet of gas in our portfolio ... we have significant options on our table already," Voser said.
But Shell is "open to looking" at new oil fields to drill in Libya, Voser said.
"We're always open to looking at new blocks, but at this stage have nothing to report," Voser said.
Voser added that chaos in the European economies could cause global energy prices to soften in the short term before rebounding in late 2013. With France and other European economies believed to be in a recession, demand for fuel will fall and erode prices, Voser said.
"Having said that, we so far see encouraging signs in the North American, Middle East and Far East markets that gross demand is still there," Voser added. "We are confident that in the second half of 2013 and in 2014 that demand will be stronger than where it is today."
Voser spoke to Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of the company's unveiling of Motiva Enterprises LLC's refinery expansion in Port Arthur. The refinery, now the largest in the U.S., is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Shell
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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