NMFS Permits Move Shell Closer to Arctic Exploration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today issued the following statement on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) approval of Incidental Harassment Authorization permits for Shell Oil’s planned exploration this summer in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

“The permits issued today bring Shell closer to drilling for oil and natural gas in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas,” Murkowski said. “If all goes as expected, Shell could very well make significant discoveries this summer.”

The NMFS permits include requirements to mitigate potential impact to seals and whales in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, as well as avoid potential conflicts with Alaska Native subsistence activities. 

Shell still needs to receive its final approval to drill from the U.S. Department of the Interior before it can move forward with its exploration plans this summer in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

“Alaska’s offshore resources represent our greatest potential to get America’s economy moving again,” Murkowski said. “Exploration has occurred in the waters off Alaska’s northern coastline for the past 40 years. I’m confident Shell can continue the tradition of safely exploring the Arctic and deliver the huge benefits of Alaska’s energy resources.

The Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast contain an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the federal government.