Salazar halts offshore drilling permits, slows Shell’s Alaska project

Interior’s action could slow Shell Oil’s efforts to drill exploratory wells in Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast.

The head of Interior’s Minerals Management Service informed Shell Thursday that the agency “will not make a final decision on the requested permits for the drilling of exploration wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas until the Department of the Interior’s report to the President has been submitted and evaluated,” Interior said.

Interior has also suspended its planning for a lease sale off the Virginia coast, a move that underscores new uncertainties about expanded drilling.