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Shell Wins U.S. Air Permit for Drilling Off Alaska’s Coast

Royal Dutch Shell Plc received draft U.S. air quality permits for its stalled oil projects in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s permits, which are subject to 30 days of public comment, were issued today after the Environmental Appeals Board overturned previous approvals last year. The Hague-based company also needs authorization from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement to begin exploration.

Shell acquired oil leases in the Beaufort Sea in 2005, and added Chukchi Sea leases in 2008. The company has said it plans to drill as many as two wells a year in the Beaufort Sea, and as many as three a year in the Chukchi Sea from 2012 through 2013.

“The issuance of these draft permits keeps in motion a critical series of events that will ultimately determine our ability to drill in 2012,” Curtis Smith, Shell’s spokesman, said today in an e-mail. “We will continue to assess our 2012 plans to ensure timelines remain realistic and that regulatory milestones are being achieved.”

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