For the past month, Shell has been drilling top holes in the Chukchi Sea. Now, they’re doing preparatory work in the Beaufort, too.
The drill rig Kulluk went into action Wednesday afternoon and will spend the rest of the month developing two 1,500-foot casings in the Beaufort. Shell plans to extend those top holes down into hydrocarbon layers next summer.
Shell has only until the end of October to do its preparatory work in the Arctic. While Shell had hoped to complete several exploratory wells this year, the company experienced a series of setbacks including permitting problems, construction delays, and aggressive sea ice. In the Beaufort, Shell also had to wait on the subsistence whaling season to wrap up. Kaktovik’s whale hunt ended just this week.