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Shell abandons Alaska Chukchi Sea exploration

28 September 2015

Shell has found indications of oil and gas in its Burger J exploration well, but these are not sufficient to warrant further exploration, says the company.

Drilling ship Polar Pioneer in the Chukchi Sea, August 2015 (photo: Mark Fink/Shell)

Shell has announced a new strategy with regard to its Burger J exploration well, located in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. The Burger J well is approximately 150 miles from Barrow, Alaska, in about 150 feet of water.

The company drilled the well to a total depth of 6800 feet this summer in a basin that demonstrates many of the key attributes of a major petroleum basin. For an area equivalent to half the size of the Gulf of Mexico, this basin remains substantially under-explored.

Shell has found indications of oil and gas in the Burger J well, but these are not sufficient to warrant further exploration in the Burger prospect. The well will now be sealed and abandoned in accordance with US regulations.

"The Shell Alaska team has operated safely and exceptionally well in every aspect of this year's exploration programme," says Marvin Odum, director, Shell Upstream Americas. "Shell continues to see important exploration potential in the basin, and the area is likely to ultimately be of strategic importance to Alaska and the US. However, this is a clearly disappointing exploration outcome for this part of the basin.”

Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future. It said the decision reflected both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.

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