Shell Scales Back Drill Plan for 2012

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.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 24 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori