The U.S. Interior Department gave Royal Dutch Shell the go ahead Monday to drill into oil bearing zones at one of its offshore Alaska wells.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) approved one Application for Permit to Modify to conduct exploratory drilling activities into potential oil-bearing zones at one of the wells at the Burger Prospect, Burger J.
The company remains limited to the top section of the Burger V well, the BSEE added.
Last month, Shell was prohibited from drilling into oil bearing zones at the Burger Prospect until a capping stack, a key piece of emergency equipment, arrived in the region.
The capping stack’s arrival was delayed last month after the ice management vessel Fennica suffered damage as it departed from Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
Crew members discovered a 39 inch gash in the ship’s hull on July 3.
The capping stack was not damaged and the vessel has since returned to Alaska after dry-docking for repairs in Portland, Oregon.
The capping stack, staged on the Fennica, is now in the region and capable of being deployed within 24 hours, the BSEE said.
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.
That limitation remains in place, the BSEE added.
The company can still drill one well at a time.
The Burger Prospect is located in about 140 feet of water, 70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright.