Some environmental groups reacted with hesitant optimism, as Greenpeace declared in a press statement that "the Arctic is proving to be the company’s Waterloo," but added, "the fight continues." Greenpeace had previously launched a "Save The Arctic" campaign to create a global sanctuary around the North Pole and ban offshore oil drilling in the Arctic. The group added that this campaign "won’t stop until the region wins protection."
Associated Press story on Shell continues below:
The company, which has so far spent around $4.5 billion to obtain licenses and prepare for exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, said it is scaling back ambitions until next summer after one of its containment systems failed during a test. Earlier, the company delayed drilling due to ice floe movements.
The company said that in the time remaining this season it plans to drill shallow "top holes" for wells that may be further pursued in coming years.
To obtain approval to drill, Shell fought a long struggle against environmental groups, who say seeking oil in the icy waters is too risky. In a statement Monday, Greenpeace claimed "vindication" and called Shell's program a "monumentally reckless gamble."
"Investors must now be asking whether investing such vast sums of money trying to exploit the fragile Arctic is really worth it," said Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace's campaign to stop Shell.
Shell said its decision is evidence of how carefully it is proceeding.
"This exploration program remains critically important to America's energy needs, to the economy and jobs in Alaska, and to Shell," a statement published by the company said.