High wind, waves, leads Shell to pause exploratory drilling off Alaska's northwest coast

A spokesman for Royal Dutch Shell PLC says he's not sure when exploratory drilling will resume off Alaska's northwest coast after high winds and waves shut down operations Wednesday.

Curtis Smith says in an email that all critical operations were paused in the Chukchi (chuk-CHEE') Sea because of high wind and waves.

The Polar Pioneer, a semi-submersible drilling unit that Shell leases from Transocean Ltd., began work July 30 and remains anchored at the drill site.

The weather is also affecting operations on shore. Smith says Shell is temporarily relocating staff at its housing camp in Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States.

Smith says a road used to transport people to the camp is down to one lane due to high water and could become impassable.