U.S. said nearing Arctic drilling regulations

|By:, SA News Editor

The Obama administration is closer than ever to imposing the first minimum standards for oil and gas activity in U.S. Arctic waters, as Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) pursues permits that could allow it to resume drilling in the region next year.

There are no specific mandates currently governing Arctic oil development; federal agencies regulate drilling in the Arctic using the same basic rules that apply generally offshore.

Shell built a specialized, first-of-its-kind containment system for its Arctic operations two years ago, but the equipment did not reach the waters north of Alaska in time; if a requirement for similar equipment is written into new Arctic mandates, other oil companies such as ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and Statoil (NYSE:STO) which hold oil and gas leases in the region might have to procure such a device before they could begin drilling.