On Thursday, September 5, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, announced that it had reached a settlement with Shell (NYSE:RDS-A)(NYSE:RDS-A) for violations of the company's Clean Air Act permits at two arctic oil and gas drilling sites. In its press release, the EPA points to "numerous" violations of Shell's air permits for its Discoverer drill ship fleet in the Chukchi Sea, and its Kulluk drill ship fleet in the Beaufort Sea, both off of the Alaskan coast. Today's settlements will cost Shell $710,000 for its Discoverer violation, and $390,000 for Kulluk, totaling $1.1 million for both penalties.
Under the Clean Air Act, the permits in question set strict limits on air pollutants based on the best available control technologies. EPA initially issued the permits in January 2012, but Shell requested, in June 2012, that the emissions threshold be raised for its Discoverer fleet. Despite EPA's temporary approval for higher limits than provided in the permits, Shell still exceeded its maximum allowable levels at both sites.
In February of this year, Shell announced a pause in its Alaska drilling program, "to ensure the readiness of all our equipment and people following the drilling season in 2012." The announcement followed an incident on December 31, 2012 in which its Kulluk rig ran aground and sustained damage. The grounding happened after the 2012 drilling season, which Shell described as having concluded "with no serious injuries or environmental impact."
At the time of writing, Shell's announcement of a drilling pause was the company's last public statement on its Alaska drilling activities.
Sara Murphy has no position in any stocks mentioned. Follow her on Twitter @SMurphSmiles. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
More from The Motley Fool
Here's the Best Dividend Stock in Big Oil
The best dividend isn't always the biggest, but in this case, it almost is.
The 4 Best Oil Stocks of 2017
When oil and gas finally started to outperform, these stocks from across the industry were the big winners.
3 Dividend Stocks I'd Never Buy
Big oil stocks are paying big dividends, but ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, and Chevron, are poorly positioned to reward investors long term.