"The Obama Administration [Thursday] gave Shell approval to prepare for oil drilling in environmentally fragile Chukchi Sea off Alaska although a critical oil spill containment vessel has not been certified. Shell will be permitted to start 'certain limited preparatory activities' for drilling off Alaska’s northwest coast, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters."
"Salazar said that Shell can construct a 40-foot-deep structure needed to install a blowout preventer, a stack of valves intended to keep oil from entering the water in case of a well blowout.
Shell’s drillship Noble Discoverer is scheduled to arrive at the drill site in the Chukchi Sea on August 31, 2012. (Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard)
He said Shell also would be allowed to drill a 'top hole' as deep as 1,400 feet and set steel pipe and concrete.
'Today’s action does not authorize Shell to drill into oil-bearing reservoirs,' Salazar said."