Shell rig back on grind after storm-induced hiatus

The president of Shell Oil Co. says exploratory drilling off Alaska’s northwest coast is going well despite stormy weather last week that caused the company to halt operations for a few days.

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Marvin Odum told The Associated Press safety will be the overriding determinant of whether Shell completes exploratory wells this year in the Chukchi Sea.

Federal regulators have given Shell permission to drill up to six exploratory wells in the Chukchi over two years.

Drilling is strongly opposed by environmental groups.

Shell in 2008 spent $2.1 billion on Chukchi leases and is attempting to confirm a massive oil field that could provide a 50-year supply of petroleum.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates Arctic waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas hold up to 26 billion barrels of recoverable oil.