"Royal Dutch Shell is spending billions of dollars to drill the first oil wells in U.S. Arctic waters in 20 years, backed by an Obama administration eager to show it wasn't opposed to offshore exploration. But the closely watched project isn't going the way the company or the government hoped—illustrating the continuing challenge of plumbing for natural riches in one of the world's most unforgiving locations."
"Sea ice in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off the northern Alaska coast was slow to break up this year, leaving the drilling areas inaccessible much later than anticipated.
Shell has also been setback by its own problems. One of its two drilling rigs slipped its anchor while waiting in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and almost ran aground. Shell also still isn't finished working on a spill-response vessel that under new federal regulations must be in operation before drilling can begin."
Tom Fowler reports for the Wall St. Journal August 19, 2012. You can get an "article free pass" to view this subscription-only content by pasting the headline into the Google search field and clicking on the resulting links.