Royal Dutch Shell has received final approval from the US government to resume drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean.
Reuters is reporting it’s the first time the oil giant is exploring the environmentally sensitive region in three years, a move green groups have vowed to fight.
Shell is allowed to drill in the oil-rich Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska.
Shell interrupted its drilling program in the region in 2012 after suffering a series of mishaps, including losing control of a giant rig from which the Coast Guard had to rescue 18 workers.
Harsh conditions in the Chukchi have discouraged other oil companies from drilling there.
Shell obtained the leases in the Chukchi during the administration of former President George W. Bush.
Since then, it has spent about US$7 billion to explore the Arctic, although oil production is at least a decade away.
The Arctic is home to an estimated 20 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas.
Shell’s determination to drill there has spawned waves of protests and funding drives by environmentalists who want to protect whales, walruses and polar bears in a vulnerable region that scientists say is changing rapidly due to global warming.
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