Judge Ends Ban on Offshore Drilling

By Annie Feidt

A federal judge today struck down the Obama administration’s six month ban on deep water oil drilling.  The judge said the government was too quick to conclude that because one rig failed, others were also in danger.

But the ruling will not impact Shell’s plans to drill exploratory wells in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska this summer. The Obama administration put Shell’s Alaska project on hold until at least next year, after the BP disaster raised new questions on whether an oil spill could be adequately cleaned up in the harsh conditions of the Arctic Ocean.

Curtis Smith is a spokesperson for Shell Alaska. He says the court case is specific to the Gulf of Mexico, but he calls the ruling encouraging.

What we saw, at least at this stage, in the courts is an acknowledgement that not everybody and every project can be painted with the same brush — that we can do this responsibly.  And frankly the vast majority of operators are doing so even right now.

Smith says Shell was a pioneer in deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and had projects there that were impacted by the moratorium. He says the company is hopeful some of those projects will now move forward.

The White House is promising to appeal the court decision.


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