Royal Dutch Shell’s plan to restart its Arctic drilling program this summer is facing another hurdle after the mayor of Seattle said the city’s port needs a new permit to house Shell’s vessels.
Seattle mayor Ed Murray said Monday that the Port of Seattle must apply for a new land-use permit if Shell is going house its Arctic fleet at the port, according to the Seattle Times.
Shell currently has a two year lease worth about $13 million to use Terminal 5 at the port as a hub for its Arctic armada.
“After talking to the Port about its plans at Terminal 5 and after reviewing the 20-year-old permit for the operation of the cargo terminal, (Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development) has found, and I concur, that the long-term moorage and maintenance of Arctic drilling equipment falls outside the current permit,” Murray said.
Murray added that he expects the port to obtain “all required city permits” before any mooorage or work on Shell’s equipment starts.
Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development told the Seattle Times that applying for a new permit could take weeks or even months.
The mayor’s comments have garnered support from environmentalist groups opposed to Shell’s Arctic restart.
Last month a group of Greenpeace members illegally boarded Shell’s Polar Pioneer as it made its way up to Seattle from Hawaii.
Shell’s efforts to tap U.S. Arctic reserves have faced a number of legal challenges and technical issues.
The U.S. Interior Department recently lifted a court ordered suspension of Shell’s Alaska Chukchi Sea leases.
The company is currently waiting on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to approve its revised drilling plan.
The plan calls for Shell to drill six exploration wells using the Noble Discoverer and Polar Pioneer rigs at its currently approved sites in the offshore Burger Prospect.
The wells would be drilled in the shallow waters of the Chukchi Sea Outer Continental Shelf, about 70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright.
The Interior Department is also considering a request from Shell to extend its time in the Arctic.