Shell Close to Alaska Drilling Permit

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Shell Oil may be close to winning permission from the U.S. Department of the Interior to drill up to five wells in the waters off of Alaska, the head of the state’s Natural Resource Department said Monday.

Shell resubmitted its application to drill five exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off the coast of Alaska. Its original application fell victim to the moratorium the U.S. Department of the Interior installed on offshore drilling following the April 2010 rig explosion at BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Shell reapplied for permits, and I think they’re ready to get them,” Dan Sullivan said at the sidelines of the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. The Interior Department “says its moving forward on it,” he added.

Even if the company, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA, RDSB), obtains the permits, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may not award the company the air permits necessary to begin drilling, Sullivan said.

A Shell spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

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