After all of the mishaps during Shell’s short Arctic drilling season this year, which included a failed and damaged containment dome, sea ice delays, the drillship Discoverer losing its moorings and almost running aground, and last week’s near disaster as the drillship Kulluk ran slipped its towline in heavy weather and ran aground off of Kodiak Island, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has order an expedited assessment of the program.  I have expressed my concerns about the risks of Arctic offshore drilling on this blog before, and these challenges have underscored those risks, and they haven’t even drilled to the productive interval yet.  All new programs have problems getting off the ground; the problem here is that the conditions are so harsh that the margin for error is virtually non-existent.  The OGJ article about Salazar’s order is below:

Salazar orders review of 2012 Arctic oil, gas drilling – Oil & Gas Journal.

Shell Arctic Safety System’s Problems Plague Alaska Drilling Plans.

The media is reporting that Shell announced this morning that they are abandoning drilling in the Arctic until this year.  I’m not reading their statement that way.  Shell is not abandoning its drilling program; their approved “tophole” operations are continuing as cleared by the Department of Interior.  Read the rest of this entry