After an epic string of screw-ups, Shell is pulling way back on its plan to conquer the far north frontier and drill the ever-loving hell out of it. Pause, baby, pause!

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Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig, which the company ran aground in Alaska in December.
kullukresponse

Shell has spent more than $4.5 billion in its quest for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off the north coast of Alaska and so far has nothing to show for it but a series of embarrassing mishaps.

“Our decision to pause in 2013 will give us time to ensure the readiness of all our equipment and people following the drilling season in 2012,” Marvin Odum, director of Shell’s “Upstream Americas” operations, said in a statement.

The company pledges that it isn’t giving up on its quest for Arctic oil: “Alaska remains an area with high potential for Shell over the long term, and the company is committed to drill there again in the future. If exploration proves successful, resources there would take years to develop.”

But at least for now: Congratulations, Alaska!