After a series of delays and heavy criticism from environmentalists, Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A, RDS-B) says it will suspend its efforts to drill for oil off the Alaskan coast this year.
The company’s CEO described the halt as temporary and said Shell viewed drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas as a long term effort. Shell has so far invested $4.5 billion in efforts to drill in the Arctic waters, but has encountered heavy regulatory hurdles that delayed operations, the Washington Post noted.
Shell continues to face political opposition to Arctic Sea drilling. Last week, a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts has disclosed that the company’s drilling ship, Noble Discoverer, had received 16 citations from the U.S. Coast Guard. Shells says that the Discoverer will be returned to Asia for upgrades.
However, Lisa Murkowski, a U.S. Senator from Alaska, expressed support for Shell’s Arctic Sea drilling, saying it would ultimately benefit the state and the country.
In January, Shell’s drilling barge ran aground on Kodiak island, prompting an outcry from environmentalists, though no oil leaked from the stricken vessel.
Drilling operations have also been hampered by stormy weather which roiled the frozen seas earlier this year.
Shares of Royal Dutch Shell rose fractionally in Thursday morning trading.