ANCHORAGE - Shell oil company has cleared another hurdle in its quest to explore for oil off Alaska's northwest coast.
Alaska Sen. Mark Begich said on Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency approved Shell's air quality permit for exploration in the Chukchi Sea. The permit is one of the last administrative steps needed before final approval for drilling in the Chukchi is granted.
Shell plans on having up to three exploratory wells operating in the Chukchi next summer. The company proposes exploratory drilling in open water using a 500-foot drill ship, an ice management vessel, an ice class anchor handling vessel and oil spill response vessels.
A public comment period on the matter ends Feb. 17.