Alaska Wells Halted
ANCHORAGE — A federal judge on Wednesday stopped companies from developing oil and gas wells on leases off Alaska’s northwest coast, saying the federal government failed to follow environmental law before it sold the drilling rights.
The 2008 lease sale brought in nearly $2.7 billion for 2.76 million acres of the Chukchi Sea.
The judge, Ralph R. Beistline of Federal District Court, said the Minerals Management Service had failed to analyze the effect of natural gas development and enjoined all activity pending more environmental reviews.
A unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC had hoped to drill three exploratory wells this summer. Those plans were halted when President Obama decided to delay offshore oil drilling in the Arctic until at least 2011.
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