U.S. Interior Department gives Shell OK to proceed with Arctic drilling prep

The U.S. Department of Interior announced this morning it is allowing Shell Oil to proceed with its drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea. Peter Granitz reports.

This is just the latest hurdle overcome in Shell’s quest to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean.

The Department of Interior granted the go-ahead to Shell to begin installing some of its safety mechanisms, including a mud-lined cellar that will eventually house a blowout preventer.

On a conference call, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar stressed today’s announcement is not final. It does not permit Shell to drill exploratory wells for oil.

“The action we are taking today is one we are very comfortable in taking, because we are confident it can be done safely and without risk to the environment,” Salazar said.

He says Shell needs to improve its containment capacity on the Arctic Challenger. Drilling cannot begin until that vessel is approved and in the Arctic.

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