Shell wants to resume Arctic drilling this year

Royal Dutch Shell plans to restart its oil drilling efforts in the U.S. part of the Arctic Ocean, its head said.

Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive officer, said at a London conference Thursday that the decision to drill in the Arctic hinges on obtaining permits and concluding various legal challenges, Reuters reported.

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“Yes, we are minded to drill in the Chukchi Sea,” van Beurden told reporters at the conference.

Shell has existing leases in the Arctic Ocean, but the announcement came two days after the United States said it would continue to sell leases in some parts of the Arctic until at least 2022, while closing off sections near Alaska’s shore and those used for whaling.

Shell pulled out of drilling last year in the Chuckchi and Beaufort seas amid strong protests from environmentalists and legal issues with the Interior Department’s leases.

Van Beurden’s plan closely matches what he said nearly a year ago, that Arctic drilling was off the table for 2014 but would likely resume in 2015.