IF SHELL FINDS OIL IN CHUKCHI SEA, WHAT NEXT?

by Alan Kovski (Bloomberg BNA)

The short drilling season for oil exploration in U.S. Arctic offshore waters will reach one stopping point Sept. 28 and a complete halt Oct. 31 for Royal Dutch Shell Plc. The company has been drilling since July 30 at the Burger prospect in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska. If oil is discovered, it will require some very interesting and complicated development decisions and regulatory considerations.

Shell has come a long way to get this far. It acquired a set of leases over the Burger prospect in 2008 and has spent about $7 billion on trying to develop the leases. Shell, operating through its subsidiary Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc., did not report a discovery from the well it drilled in 2012, and no one has ever yet discovered oil in the Chukchi — not oil in commercial quantities, at any rate. A dry hole is always a possibility.

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