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“It represents the first time a governmental body has really and honestly suggested what needs to happen to manage the Arctic responsibly,” he said. “The U.K. Parliamentary body has proposed a realistic road-map for Arctic stewardship.”

Environmental groups strongly oppose Arctic offshore drilling, claiming oil companies have not demonstrated the ability to clean up spilled crude in ice. Operating in one of the world’s most hostile marine environments is a risk to its polar bears, walrus and endangered whales, the groups claim.

Shell has limited Arctic drilling off Alaska to preparation work this year after a safety system was damaged during testing.

However, Marvin Odum, head of Shell Oil Co., Royal Dutch Shell’s U.S. subsidiary, insists it is optimistic about tapping into an estimated 26 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 trillion cubic feet (3.68 trillion cubic meters) of natural gas in U.S. Arctic waters.

In evidence to the British committee, Robert Blaauw, a senior Shell adviser on the Arctic, said energy demand over the coming decades made it necessary for companies to look to “unconventional resources” such as those in the Arctic.

The company said that it welcomed dialogue on Arctic energy exploration.