Alaska braces for fallout of Shell Arctic drilling decision

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The Shell Arctic oil drilling rig when it arrived for a stop in Port Angles, Wash. (Photo courtesy of Heather Cerutti)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Environmental groups are celebrating Royal Dutch Shell’s decision to end exploratory drilling off Alaska’s northern coast, but officials in Alaska say the finding is going to hurt.

Gov. Bill Walker says Shell’s decision to end exploration in offshore Alaska “for the foreseeable future” means Alaska will have to turn elsewhere to solve its economic woes.

He’s suggesting the federal government open a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to natural gas drilling.

Shell announced Monday that its exploratory well in the Chukchi (chuk-CHEE) Sea had found oil and gas, but not in commercial quantities that justified the huge expense of Arctic offshore drilling.

Spokesman Curtis Smith says a return to Alaska waters will depend on how drilling prospects compare to other areas.

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