Shell is pressured to stop Arctic oil search
Pressure is mounting on Shell to abandon its quest for oil in the Arctic Circle after the US government ordered two reviews into the Anglo-Dutch company's activities off the Alaskan coast, which could halt its planned drilling campaign.
The Obama administration has ordered a sweeping review of Shell's plans to explore in the Arctic after a series of accidents involving its ships, rigs and equipment, culminating in the grounding of the Kulluk rig near an Alaskan island on New Year's Eve.
The mishaps have added to the scrutiny Shell was already under. Conditions are especially tough in the region, and a major spill could inflict huge environmental damage. They have confirmed the fears of some opponents of Arctic drilling that Shell does not have the skill, experience or equipment to cope with the harsh environment. Tommy Beaudreau, who is leading the review by the US Department of the Interior, said: "We will assess Shell's ability to meet the strict standards in place for Arctic development."
The 60-day review threatens Shell's ability to secure permits it needs for this year's drilling season – July to October – and could force it to scale back or even halt its programme to open Alaska's Arctic waters to oil exploration. Shell publicly welcomed the review, saying it would "help strengthen our Alaska exploration programme".
Although Shell has received some approvals for an Arctic exploration programme stretching over several years, it needs additional permits to penetrate "oil-bearing" rocks. The US Coastguard has opened an investigation into the grounding of the Kulluk.
Woolwich terror attack: Suspect Michael Adebowale saw friend 'literally sliced to pieces' in 2008
Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity
Unrest may spread across Europe, warns Red Cross chief
EDL marches on Newcastle as attacks on Muslims increase tenfold in the wake of Woolwich machete attack which killed Drummer Lee Rigby
You want to get an Eton scholarship? All you need to do is answer four (not so simple) questions
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 3 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 4 EDL marches on Newcastle as attacks on Muslims increase tenfold in the wake of Woolwich machete attack which killed Drummer Lee Rigby
- 5 Farewell, Shameless. Your heirs have work to do
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.