Shell Oil is set to tap Alaska's vast oil reserves now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final air quality permit to allow exploration development north of the Arctic Circle. The permit allows Shell to set up its Noble Discoverer drillship in the Chukchi Sea along with a fleet of support vessels including icebreakers and oil spill response crafts. The company will be allowed to operate them no more than 120 days annually starting in 2012. The permit sets strict air pollution control limits on the drilling equipment.
In a press release, EPA explained the new permits are revised versions of those issued to Shell in 2010. At the time, environmental activist groups challenged them, and EPA's Environmental Appeals Board decided the original permits did not meet Clean Air Act standards. The new ones restrict fleet emissions by more than 50 percent from the levels allowed in 2010. EPA says it granted the new permits based largely on state-of-the-art pollution control equipment recently installed on the Discoverer and on Shell's agreement to further reduce emissions by adding more controls to its drilling fleet.
Click here to read the entire article.