Shell files offshore drilling plans for Alaska’s North Slope

A yellow rig leaves a harbor under snow-covered mountains
Shell’s Polar Pioneer leaving Dutch Harbor on Oct. 12, 2015, heading for Washington state. (John Ryan/KUCB)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Shell Offshore Inc. has submitted plans to plans to drill for oil in the waters along the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in the coming years.

The Dutch oil industry giant applied to form the West Harrison Bay Unit to explore in state waters off the North Slope region, The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Wednesday.

Documents submitted to the state Division of Oil & Gas said Shell has attempted to find a partner to work on the West Harrison Bay leases for at least a year.

Shell claimed to be making progress before the coronavirus pandemic. The company asked the state to validate its exploration plan for five years, which is expected to provide sufficient time for the company to secure a partner and analyze the area’s development potential.

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Shell holds a 100% working interest in 18 leases covering more than 122 square miles in the proposed unit.

The wells would target the Nanushuk oil formation first pinpointed by the Repsol-Armstrong Energy partnership. The shallow Nanushuk formation also forms the basis of the ConocoPhillips Co. Willow oil prospect to the south of Harrison Bay.

A U.S. representative for Shell did not immediately respond to questions.