Shell plans to resume oil and gas exploration in Alaskan Arctic offshore waters for the first time since 2015, according to exploration plans filed with the state Sept. 17.
The company seeks state approval to form an exploration unit covering 86,400 acres and 18 Alaska Beaufort Sea state offshore leases held by Shell. The company has committed to seismic and exploration drilling over the next five years in west Harrison Bay, which is in offshore the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and 34 miles northwest of the Colville River delta where the onshore Alpine field is now producing.
Shell said it has identified several prospects within the 18-lease group that could hold oil and gas accumulations. The company proposes updating seismic and geological data in 2022 and 2023 and conducting exploration drilling in 2024 and 2025.
The company has identified possible offshore extensions of the Nanushuck and Torok formations, which are productive onshore plays in the Colville River region where ConocoPhillip, Repsol and Oil Search, a company based in Papua, New Guinea, have made discoveries in recent years.
Shell was an active Alaska explorer and producer for decades until it withdrew from the state in 2015 after a costly and unsuccessful exploration program in the Chukchi Sea, an area off the northwest Alaskan Arctic coast.