The plans seek permission to drill up to 10 exploratory wells -- a significant expansion compared to what they wanted to do in the past.
The wells would not all be drilled at once. Shell wants to start two in the Beaufort Sea, and two or three in the nearby Chukchi Sea next summer.
Over the course of a couple years it could add up to 10 wells.
"People are beginning to talk about, 'use it or lose it,'" said Shell Alaska Vice President Pete Slaiby regarding the company's multi-billion dollar leases. "We're expected to evaluate those leases, which is exactly what we're doing."
Shell was denied a critical air permit which would have allowed it to drill this summer. In part, because federal regulators have been extra-cautious following last summer's Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
But with rising gas prices, political tension in the Middle East, and a desire from many lawmakers to increase domestic energy production, the circumstances are different this time around.
"The indications that we've heard even from President Obama is that Alaska and Alaska offshore is on the table when the nation looks at the energy picture," Slaiby said.
Environmental groups say they're not surprised with this latest push, but that there needs to be much more scrutiny, especially when people bring up the price at the pump.
"A smallish increase domestically is not going to have much effect, if at all, and it's going to take a decade or so until Shell will be able to develop its wells under the best possible circumstances," said Lois Epstein the Arctic Program Director for The Wilderness Society.
It could be months before anyone knows what decision makers at the Interior Department are thinking. All they'd say this week is that they'll take a cautious approach while considering the latest science and input from North Slope communities.