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Obama proposes new rules for Arctic exploratory drilling

Obama proposes new rules for Arctic exploratory drilling
Shell's Arctic Challenger sits at the Port of Bellingham in Washington. Proposed new rules for exploratory drilling will not apply to Shell Oil's plans to complete two wells off Alaska in 2015. (Philip A. Dwyer / Bellingham Herald)

Companies seeking to hunt for oil in the frigid, ice-filled waters off Alaska may soon be subjected to stricter rules.

The Obama administration on Friday proposed new rules for exploratory drilling, the first step in producing oil. The rules are the first tailor-made for drilling in the Arctic.

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The new rules will not apply to Shell Oil's plans to complete two wells off Alaska this year. But officials said the company's preparations served as a model for the proposal.

The rules would require companies to be able to drill a relief well to contain an uncontrolled spill before ice sets in, shutting down the drilling season.

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In 2012, Shell's drilling rig dodged an ice floe. A drill ship nearly ran aground.

Environmentalists have long argued Arctic drilling is too risky.

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