Shell has modified plans for drilling in the Arctic this summer. Shell spokesman Curtis Smith says lingering sea ice and logistical challenges are shrinking their window for work.
“As of today our goal is to complete two wells and then do a number of foundational wells, otherwise known as top holes that don’t go to total depth, but what it allows us to do, is meaningful work this year and then re-enter some of those incomplete wells next year and hopefully get closer to the number of 10 wells that we’d hoped to drill over two years anyhow,” Smith said.
Earlier this month Shell asked for a revision of its air quality permit from the EPA for its Discover Ship. Normally that would take months. But Shell is counting on the agency to issue the permit, so it can drill this summer. Smith says the work on the partial wells would jump start next summer’s work.
“It goes about 2000 feet down and it takes several days to complete that work so whether you’re going to complete that work on the spot in 2012 or re-enter that well in 2013, it’s still days that you’re counting down if you can do that work this year so we would hope to complete some wells but also complete a number of these foundational wells because it would put us well ahead of the game for next year,” Smith said.
He says the well’s total depth would be 9000 feet. Shell has invested $4.5 billion to date.