Shell: Offshore Alaska Drilling Likely to Begin this Weekend

Royal Dutch Shell PLC's U.S. unit said Friday drilling in Alaska's Arctic offshore will likely begin over the coming weekend, after a drillship sets down anchor over the first oil-and-gas prospect targeted by the Anglo-Dutch oil company in the Chukchi Sea.

The drillship, Noble Corp.'s Noble Discoverer (mid-water drillship), is in the process of mooring its eight anchors on the seafloor, a Shell spokeswoman said. Once operations start, the vessel's crew will drill the top portion of an oil well.

The company also said it would test an oil-spill-containment system during the weekend.

Shell's six-year-long campaign to open up vast oil riches off Alaska's coast has been delayed by environmental lawsuits, cautious regulators and bad weather, including persistent ice. The company has only a few weeks to conduct its plans, focused on drilling the top part of several wells, before the summer drilling season is over.


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