President Barack Obama created an inter-agency working group led by the Interior Department to oversee oil and natural gas exploration in Alaska.
The group will coordinate permit decisions and environmental reviews for onshore and offshore projects, including Royal Dutch Shell Plc's plan to drill in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, David Hayes, deputy interior secretary and the working-group leader said.
"We're not looking to this group to be a super-permitting agency, to be a one-stop shop," Hayes said. "The primary purpose of this is to ensure coordination and broad sharing of information."
Shell is waiting for US approval to begin exploring on leases the company purchased in the Beaufort Sea in 2005 and in the Chukchi Sea in 2008. Shell needs permits from agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
The working group was established Wednesday.
Shell has said it plans to drill as many as two wells a year in the Beaufort Sea, and as many as three a year in the Chukchi Sea from 2012 through 2013 after investing $3.5 billion (Dh12.86 billion) on Alaska drilling efforts.
Obama said the administration will encourage domestic production with annual lease sales in Alaska, creating a "new team" to coordinate Alaska drilling, faster evaluations of oil and gas resources in the Atlantic Ocean and incentives to develop unused leases.
From / Gulf News