May 29, 2012
Unveiling a newly refurbished ice-class rig that is poised to begin drilling two exploratory wells this summer in the Beaufort Sea , Shell executives said Friday that the unusually robust sea ice would further narrow what already is a tight window for operations. The company’s $4-billion program is designed to measure the extent of what could be the United States’ most important new inventory of oil and gas.
Shell has pledged to end its first season of exploratory drilling  by Oct. 31 in the Beaufort Sea and 38 days earlier in the more remote Chukchi Sea to remain within the relatively ice-free summer season.
Meeting with reporters and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, on board the Kulluk drilling rig in the Seattle shipyards, Shell’s vice president for Alaska operations, Pete Slaiby, said the company had given up on its controversial attempt to win permission from the federal government to extend Chukchi drilling though October as well.
“Not this year. I think it’s a done deal,” he said.