Shell has been banned from returning to drill for oil in the Arctic, due to serious problems occurring when the rig ran aground off a small Alaskan island on New Year’s Eve.
The Obama administration said that the company would only be allowed back if they had a ‘comprehensive overhaul’ of it’s plans, as it was found to be lacking in preparation for the extreme conditions of the Arctic, resulting in a number of serious blunders.
Shell announced a “pause” in Arctic drilling last month. But Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, told a reporters’ conference call that the company will not be allowed to return without producing a much more detailed plan, one tailored specifically to the harsh Arctic conditions.
“Shell will not be able to move forward into the Arctic to do any kind of exploration unless they have this integrated management plan put in place,” said Salazar, in one of his last acts before standing down as interior secretary. “It’s that plain and simple.”
This could mean further costs and delays for Shell, with over $4.5 billion already spent on securing permits to allow them to drill in Arctic waters.
Some environmental groups however, are not happy saying that the review shows that the government should not have allowed the drilling at all.
Salazar and other officials said Shell had not been prepared to drill last year, when a season of blunders and accidents was capped with the New Year’s Eve grounding of one of its drilling rigs.
“Shell screwed up in 2012 and we are not going to let them screw up after their pause is removed,” Salazar said.
After ordering the review, Salazar told reporters he had doubts about whether drilling could ever be done safely in a region as harsh and remote as the Arctic Sea.
On Thursday, however, Salazar and other officials told reporters that the Obama administration remained committed to drilling for oil in the Arctic.