Steve Jones, dressed as “Frost Paw” the polar bear, waves to President Barack Obama’s motorcade as it heads toward Exit Glacier on Tuesday in Seward. Jones, a representative from the Center for Biological Diversity, gathered with a crowd of activists along the Seward Highway waving signs to encourage the President to take action on climate change. While environmentalists praise the president for curbing greenhouse gases, they pillory him for granting Shell permission to drill in the Chukchi Sea for the first time in 24 years. On Tuesday, the president of Shell Oil Co. said he expects more protests.-Photo by Rashah McChesney, Morris News Service - Alaska

Steve Jones, dressed as “Frost Paw” the polar bear, waves to President Barack Obama’s motorcade as it heads toward Exit Glacier on Tuesday in Seward. Jones, a representative from the Center for Biological Diversity, gathered with a crowd of activists along the Seward Highway waving signs to encourage the President to take action on climate change. While environmentalists praise the president for curbing greenhouse gases, they pillory him for granting Shell permission to drill in the Chukchi Sea for the first time in 24 years. On Tuesday, the president of Shell Oil Co. said he expects more protests.-Photo by Rashah McChesney, Morris News Service - Alaska

Shell president optimistic about drilling in Arctic

ANCHORAGE — The president of Shell Oil Co. said Tuesday that exploratory drilling off Alaska’s northwest coast is going well despite stormy weather last week that caused the company to halt operations for a few days.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Marvin Odum said he expects further protests against the company’s plans for Arctic drilling like the ones in Seattle and Portland where activists in kayaks tried to block Shell vessels.

Arctic offshore drilling is bitterly opposed by environmental groups that say a spill cannot be cleaned in ice-choked waters and that industrial activity will harm polar bears, walrus and ice seals already harmed by diminished sea ice.

In Seattle, Shell faced protests on the water by “kayaktivists” upset over the company staging equipment in the city. In Portland, Ore., Greenpeace USA protesters hung from the St. Johns Bridge to delay a Shell support vessel, from heading to the Arctic.

“I think the right assumptions for me to make are, it’s not going to go away,” Odum said. “We saw quite a bit of very public opposition when we were in the Pacific Northwest.”

Odum said he’s “110 percent ready” to work with people who want to find ways to improve drilling.

“I do have an issue with those that oppose who use illegal means or put the safety of themselves or the safety of anybody associated with this operation at risk,” he said.

Odum said good progress is being made on the first well off Alaska’s northwest coast.

“We had a few days in the last week where we couldn’t operate because of the weather,” he said. “Now we’re coming out of that and it looks like we’re moving into a time period of good weather.”

President Barack Obama this week is in Alaska rallying support for measures to combat climate change, such as limits on carbon emissions. Odum is staying in the same hotel as the president — the Hotel Captain Cook.

While environmentalists praise the president for curbing greenhouse gases, they pillory him for granting Shell permission to drill in the Chukchi Sea for the first time in 24 years.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Chukchi and Beaufort seas hold 26 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Oil will continue to be needed as the United States transitions to more renewable energy, Odum said.

“Oil will be required for a long time,” Odum said. “Let’s take a really close look at developing our own resources, control how it’s done and get all the benefits that go along with it.”

Shell in two years of exploratory drilling and with up to six wells hopes to confirm a vast reservoir of oil. If it’s found, Shell could apply for production permits and move oil by undersea pipe to the Alaska shore and then overland across northern Alaska to the trans-Alaska pipeline. That could take more than a decade.

Odum is confident exploration can be done safely, and the overriding factor dictating whether Shell completes an exploratory well this year will be safety.

Shell is operating under strict Arctic rules put in place after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Arctic offshore drilling has been scrutinized in the courts in lawsuits brought by drilling opponents, Odum said.

“It’s probably fair to say, this is the most scrutinized, analyzed project — oil and gas project — probably anywhere in the world. I’m actually sure of that,” he said.

All the scrutiny, along with Shell’s own internal review, have gone into safety considerations. It’s in the company’s best interest, he said.

“We can’t afford to have a problem here,” Odum said.

More in News

Coast Guardsmen and state employees load the Together Tree bound for the Alaska Governor’s Mansion on a truck on Nov. 29, 2021 after the Coast Guard Cutter Elderberry transported the tree from Wrangell. (USCG photo / Petty Officer 2nd Class Lexie Preston)
Governor’s mansion tree arrives in Juneau

No weather or floating lines could stay these Coast Guardsmen about their task.

The Kenai Community Library health section is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. The Kenai City Council voted during its Oct. 20 meeting to postpone the legislation approving grant funds after members of the community raised concerns about what books would be purchased with the money, as well as the agency awarding the grant. The council will reconsider the legislation on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council to consider library grant again

The council earlier voted to postpone the legislation after concerns were raised about what books would be purchased.

EPA logo
Alaska Native group to receive EPA funds for clean water projects

The agency is handing out $4.3 million to participating tribal organizations nationwide.

fund
Study: PFD increases spending on kids among low-income families

New study looks at PFD spending by parents

Image via the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Nikiski soil treatment facility moves ahead

The facility, located at 52520 Kenai Spur Highway, has drawn ire from community residents.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Bycatch becomes hot issue

Dunleavy forms bycatch task force.

Rep. Chris Kurka, R-Wasilla, leaves the chambers of the Alaska House of Representatives on Friday, March 19, 2021, after an hour of delays concerning the wording on his mask. On Monday, Kurka announced he was running for governor in 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Wasilla rep announces gubernatorial bid

Kurka said he was motivated to run by a sense of betrayal from Dunleavy.

The Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson star is Illuminated on the side of Mount Gordon Lyon on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, just east of Anchorage, Alaska, in observation of the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. A crew from the base went to light the 300-foot wide holiday star, but found that only half of the star’s 350 or so lights were working, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Airmen from the 773rd Civil Engineer Squadron Electrical Shop haven’t been able to figure out what was wrong and repair the lights, but they plan to work through the week, if necessary, base spokesperson Erin Eaton said. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)
Avalanche delays holiday tradition in Alaska’s largest city

ANCHORAGE — A holiday tradition in Alaska’s largest city for more than… Continue reading

AP Photo/Gregory Bull,File
In this Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, photo, George Chakuchin, left, and Mick Chakuchin look out over the Bering Sea near Toksook Bay, Alaska. A federal grant will allow an extensive trail system to connect all four communities on Nelson Island, just off Alaska’s western coast. The $12 million grant will pay to take the trail the last link, from Toksook Bay, which received the federal money, to the community of Mertarvik, the new site for the village of Newtok. The village is moving because of erosion.
Federal grant will connect all 4 Nelson Island communities

BETHEL — A federal grant will allow an extensive trail system to… Continue reading

Most Read