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Politicians react to Shell drilling pause

Posted: February 28, 2013 - 12:12am

Shell Oil Co. announced Wednesday it will “pause” exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas for the year, prompting a flurry of statements from top Alaska Republicans voicing support for the major energy company.

Gov. Sean Parnell released a statement expressing disappointment that Shell will not be conducting oil exploration off the coast of Alaska in the wake of its drill ship Kulluk running aground near Kodiak Island, while also saying he understands Shell’s decision.

“While Shell’s decision to pause drilling in Alaska is a disappointment, I commend the company’s commitment to safety and responsible development,” Parnell’s statement read in part, later adding, “Shell continues to have our full support for this project that is critical to America’s domestic energy security.”

Rep. Don Young, Alaska’s sole member of the United States House of Representatives, put out a similar statement.

“As a lifelong advocate for responsible resource development in the Arctic, today’s decision by Shell to temporarily pause their exploration is disappointing, but showcases Shell’s commitment to safety,” Young said in his statement. “This pause will allow Shell to repairs its ships and make the necessary planning adjustments as they continue their multi-year exploratory program in the Arctic.”

Alaska House of Representatives Speaker Mike Chenault of Nikiski commented as well, saying Shell is “doing the right thing.”

“It’s hard to argue with tapping the brakes and re-assessing their ability,” said Chenault, according to a statement from the House majority caucus. “They should be applauded for that.”

State Rep. Eric Feige of Chickaloon called the situation “unfortunate.”

“I sincerely hope that they will maintain their resolve to explore their offshore leases as soon as they have dealt with their equipment issues,” Feige said of Shell, as quoted in the House majority release.

Feige is co-chairman of the Alaska House Resources Committee. The committee’s other co-chairman, Eagle River Rep. Dan Saddler, was also quoted in the statement.

“I was disappointed to hear Shell’s decision to stand down Arctic OCS drilling efforts in 2013, as the need for increased oil production is clear to almost every Alaskan,” said Saddler. “But I am impressed again with Shell’s demonstrated determination to do it right in Alaska, and look forward to resumption of a robust drilling and production program as soon as possible.”

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