As you likely know, the Obama administration has renewed its efforts to slow the issuance of deepwater drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico. This approach came hard on the heels of granting permission to Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL) to restart work on a well it had begun when BP's (NYSE: BP) Macondo well blew out last spring.

Now you can add Royal Dutch Shell's (NYSE: RDS-B) Alaskan folks to the list of those twiddling their thumbs while the federal government tries to show that haste makes waste. In Shell's case, regulators have said it'll be October before they'll be able to bless the company's drilling in the state's Chukchi Sea.

Shell had planned to begin its Chukchi work next year. But environmentalists and indigenous tribes petitioned a U.S. District Court in an effort to reverse a 2008 sale that awarded drilling rights to the company. A federal judge ordered that an environmental analysis related to the sale be redone, ideally by January. However, regulators said they needed more time and specified a plan to complete their work by October.

Coincidentally, William Reilly, co-chairman of a commission appointed by President Obama to investigate April's Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico -- and previously a ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) board member -- in January extolled the quality of Shell's spill response planning.

Separately, Shell is in the final stages of selling four blocks in the Niger Delta's western swamps. With Nigerian militants having made a habit of attacking the facilities of Western oil companies -- including a November raid on ExxonMobil's (NYSE: XOM) Oso platform in the Niger Delta -- Shell is redirecting its efforts offshore in the country.

From the 18 companies that originally expressed an interest in acquiring the parcels, Shell has narrowed the field to five local bidders. A sale to small operators based in Nigeria would set a new tone for production in the country, most of which has been conducted by major integrated producers.

Shell operates the four parcels in partnership with France's Total (NYSE: TOT) and Italy's Eni (NYSE: E). Nigeria's state-owned NNPC has the major interest in each of the blocks. One of the blocks produces 45,000 barrels a day, while another pair together turn out 26,000 barrels per day. The fourth parcel is currently unproductive.

Other majors are said to be considering joining Shell in unloading Nigerian assets. That phenomenon, along with the chaos in Libya and other countries in the region -- to say nothing of historic difficulties for companies in Venezuela and even in Russia -- should persuade Fools to re-examine their portfolios for promising energy representation.

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We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.