"Shell Oil Rig Set for Landmark Alaska Journey"

"After one of the biggest environmental fights in decades, exploratory drilling is expected to begin in July off the state's north coast. The company has plans in case of a spill; opponents say normal operations will still release damaging chemicals."

"Seattle -- Amid the tangle of towering steel, heavy cranes and overcast skies of Seattle's busy commercial shipyards, Shell Oil's massive Kulluk drilling rig is preparing to push off for the Arctic Ocean.

When it does, America's balance between energy needs and environmental fears will enter a new era. Barring unexpected court or regulatory action, by July the Kulluk will begin drilling exploratory oil wells in the frigid waters off Alaska's northern coast.

After one of the biggest environmental fights in the U.S. in decades, there is a palpable sense of all-systems-go on the dock. Shell has invested $4 billion leading up to this moment, hoping the new wells will open the tap on an undersea field that could be one of the biggest ever discovered in the U.S. The Obama administration has given all but the final go-ahead, sensing the potential of 500,000 gallons a day of new oil flowing into the trans-Alaska pipeline."

Kim Murphy reports for the Los Angeles Times March 3, 2012.

Source: LA Times, 03/05/2012