High winds have forced Shell to temporarily suspend drilling activities in offshore Alaska.

According to the AP, strong winds and high waves caused the company to temporarily halt all critical operations in the Chukchi Sea.

The National Weather Service in Fairbanks, Alaska has recorded gale force winds between 39 and 54 mph in the eastern part of the Chukchi Sea this week.

The weather conditions also prompted Shell to temporarily relocate staff from a housing camp in Barrow, Alaska.

“A road used to transport people to the camp is down to one lane due to high water and could become impassable,” a Shell spokesperson told the AP.

The company does not yet know when it will be able to resume operations.

The U.S. Interior Department gave Royal Dutch Shell the go ahead in early August to drill into oil bearing zones at one of its offshore Alaska wells.

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.

The capping stack, staged on the Fennica, is now in the region and capable of being deployed within 24 hours.

At the end of June, the Interior Department determined that Shell’s exploration 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.


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