The Obama administration is set to announce that it is suspending proposed exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean until 2011. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says in a report to be delivered to the White House later today that he will not consider applications for permits to drill in the Arctic until 2011, according to reports overnight. Shell Oil is poised to begin exploratory drilling this northern summer on leases as far as 140 miles (225km) offshore. An administration official familiar with the plan, which has not been made public, said Mr Salazar wants to allow further study of proposed drilling technology and oil spill response capabilities in Arctic waters. Mr Salazar has said he wants to take a cautious approach in the Arctic. President Barack Obama ordered Mr Salazar to conduct a review of Americas offshore oil drilling safety after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last month. The announcement comes as the British energy giant BP launched a complex and risky deep-sea operation to cap the Gulf of Mexico leak from the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers. The fractured pipe from the Deepwater Horizon has been spouting oil into the gulf for 36 straight days, creating a massive slick washing up along the Louisiana coastline and threatening endangered birds, animals and plants. Oil from the giant slick has now soiled more than 100 miles of Louisiana coastline, state Governor Bobby Jindal said yesterday, more than doubling the previous estimate. Just after 1800 GMT yesterday BP began pumping heavy mud into the leaking well in the latest attempt to stop the leak. Last night executives said everything was going as planned in the companys boldest attempt yet to plug the gusher that has spewed millions of gallons of oil over the last five weeks. BP hopes the mud could overpower the steady stream of oil, but chief executive Tony Hayward said it would be at least 24 hours before officials know whether the attempt has been successful. The company wants to eventually inject cement into the well to permanently seal it. White House deputy spokesman Bill Burton told reporters on Air Force One that President Barack Obama was being updated on the progress of the top kill operation. I would say that his level of frustration is very high and that every moment that that hole is not plugged the president has a deep level of concern, he said.(Times Online)