Greenpeace Claims Victory for Shell's Arctic Drilling Pause

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The environmental group Greenpeace is claiming victory this week after Royal Dutch Shell announced on Monday that it would not be drilling into hydrocarbon zones in the Arctic this year. Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was praising the company and said the Obama administration looks forward to working with Shell in the future. Here are the details.

* Shell stated that over the past several days, it successfully completed a series of tests of the first-ever Arctic Containment System. However, during the final test, the containment dome aboard the Arctic Challenger barge was damaged.

* The company stated that it was disappointed that the dome failed stringent acceptance standards and that it would not conduct any operation until it was satisfied that the operation could be done safely.

* The company's focus while repairing the dome will be, instead, to begin as many wells -- called "top holes" -- as the season will allow. These wells will be capped and temporarily abandoned until drilling resumes, Shell stated.

* According to Ben Ayliffe , the polar campaign director for Greenpeace International, "By shining a light in the far frozen corners of this planet, together we've helped keep risky oil drilling out of the Arctic -- for this year."

* Ayliffe said called Shell's decision to halt 2012 drilling in the arctic a victory for two million people who have joined the Save the Arctic campaign "against one of the most powerful corporations on the planet."

* According to Ayliffe, Shell's announcement is a huge step forward, but said the campaign must push forward to "make sure we can keep the Arctic protected from all oil drillers, for good."

* Shell stated that in the coming days, it would begin exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea and has assembled drill ships and support vessels, trained personnel and has acquired approved plans and permits. "This exploration program remains critically important to America's energy needs, to the economy and jobs in Alaska, and to Shell," the company stated.

* Salazar stated on Monday that the Interior Department has set rigorous standards for the safety, environmental protection and emergency response of exploration activities in the Arctic. Shell has demonstrated a commitment to those standards, the Interior Secretary said.

* "As part of President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy," said Salazar, "we look forward to continuing to work with Shell to maximize the remaining opportunities this drilling season provides while doing so in a manner that expands domestic energy production, creates jobs, protects people, and safeguards our natural resources."

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