Anchorage — Shell Oil won two critical permits it needs to drill in Arctic waters off Alaska's continental shelf.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued final air quality permits Monday to the oil company for exploration in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
This is a big step forward for the company, but there are many more permits Shell needs to operate its drills.
Shell had to cancel its drilling program this year because it lost similar battles with environmentalist groups.
The pursuit for the permit cost $60-million dollar and took five years.
Officials with Shell Oil say the new permits put the company on track for drilling by next year.
“It's been a long, frustrating, and expensive process for Shell,” said Shell spokesman Curtis Smith. “We've gone to great length to make sure our emissions do not negatively impact the environment or North Slope villages.”