Curtis Smith said the company is "putting the building blocks in place" for an upcoming exploration season but hasn't made a final decision.
He said if Shell drills in 2014, it will be in the Chukchi Sea only, and not the Beaufort Sea.
The plans were made public during Royal Dutch Shell PLC's third-quarter earnings announcement.
Shell drilled in both the Chukchi and the Beaufort in 2012 but suffered serious setbacks, culminating with the grounding of a drill vessel near Kodiak.
The company subsequently decided it would not drill in 2013.
MORE HBJ HEADLINES
Atlas rocket launches for 1st time since March grounding United, flight attendants near tentative deal on new contract Before the robots rise up, they’ll make pizza GM plans $290 million investment in Corvette plant U.S. rig count down 3 this week to 421 Bellingham launches inspections of rental properties