Royal Dutch Shell informed the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement on Tuesday that it’s ready to begin drilling into oil bearing zones at its Arctic prospect.
According to the Guardian, the company has asked for its current permit to be modified so that it can start exploratory drilling in offshore Alaska.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) conditionally approved two permits for Shell to conduct limited exploratory drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea last month.
However, the BSEE said that Shell could not drill into oil bearing zones until a capping stack, a required piece of emergency equipment, arrived in the region.
The capping stack’s arrival was delayed after the ice management vessel Fennica suffered a hull beach while hauling the equipment.
The vessel was damaged on July 3 as it was departing Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
Workers aboard the vessel discovered a 39 inch long and half an inch wide gash in the ship’s ballast tank.
Shell said the damage was most likely caused by an uncharted shoal.
The capping stack was not damaged during the incident.
Fennica was dry-docked in Portland, Oregon for repairs and is now back in the Chukchi Sea.
A Shell spokesperson told the Guardian that the company is ready to drill into oil bearing zones.
“Fennica is in the Chukchi Sea, drilling continues, and we have requested the permit to drill deeper in this exploration well,” a company spokesperson told the paper.
The company added that a second rig, the Noble Discoverer, is also ready to start drilling.
Shell’s exploration plan hit a regulatory snag last month after the Interior Department ruled that Shell can not simultaneously drill two wells in offshore Alaska as initially planned.
The department determined that the company’s plans violated a a 2013 Fish and Wildlife Services rule requiring a 15 mile zone between wells.
The company can still drill one well at a time.
Shell’s exploration plan calls for up to six wells to be drilled at the Burger Prospect in water depths of 140 feet about 70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright.