A number of environmental groups in the US are to sue Shell over plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean.
The Sierra Club and nine other groups are seeking to overturn the government’s decision in a petition with the US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The move comes after the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management gave conditional approval last month for Shell to resume its fossil fuel exploration in the Arctic.
A Shell spokesman said the oil major had expected its plans would be challenged in the courts.
Environmental groups have said the weather in the Arctic make its an unsafe area with which to drill.
Activists have been staging protests over Shell’s use of Seattle’s port as a base for Arctic bound drilling rigs.
Last month a group of US Senators called on the Obama administration to halt Shell’s preparations for oil exploration in the Arctic.
The move – by mostly Democratic senators – was made amidst fears the region has a limited capacity to respond to accidents.
A letter was sent by the senators to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and urged her to retire Arctic leases in the Chukchi Sea.
Earlier this month, the Department of the Interior gave Shell conditional approval for exploration in the Arctic.
Shell chief executive van Beurden vowed to keep exploring the Arctic at an annual general meeting in which he said new sources of oil must be developed to keep up with global demand.
Activists say they are concerned about the risk of an oil spill in the remote Arctic waters and the effects that tapping new frontiers of oil and gas reserves will have on global warming.
Officials in Alaska have touted the economic benefits that drilling could bring there and to the Pacific Northwest.