Shell updates oil-drilling plans

Shell promises to take extra safety measures when drilling in the Arctic

Shell Oil Co. has made big promises to the Minerals Management Service and environmentalists who have demanded that the oil giant outline how it will prevent a disaster such as the BP oil spill when it begins its long-awaited drilling in the Arctic Ocean this summer, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In its detailed response, Shell promised to use a prefabricated coffer dam—a freestanding steel support system and fabric membrane that could contain a potential oil blowout—near the drilling sites. It also promised to take additional measures including carefully evaluating reservoirs, testing the coffer dam every seven days and applying dispersant underwater in the case of a spill.

The oil company also pointed out fundamental differences between the drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and its plans in the Arctic—such as drilling at 5,000 feet instead of 18,000 feet, and drilling in cold, icy water where a spill would be easier to clean up.

However, critics and conservationists, such as the Pew Environment Group, have submitted counter statements claiming Shell has yet to provide the assurances necessary to move forward with the drilling.