Wednesday, April 10, 2013

ConocoPhillips halts 2014 Alaskan Arctic drilling plans

ConocoPhillips COP +0.15% said Wednesday it put its 2014 Alaska Chukshi Sea exploration drilling plans on hold due to regulatory uncertainty.
“The company has determined it would not be prudent at this time to make the significant monetary commitments needed to preserve the option to drill in 2014,” ConocoPhillips said in a statement.
A recent Department of the Interior report called on industry and government to work together to develop an Arctic-specific model for offshore oil and gas exploration in Alaska.
“Once those requirements are understood, we will re-evaluate our Chukchi Sea drilling plans. We believe this is a reasonable and responsible approach given the huge investments required to operate offshore in the Arctic,” said Trond-Erik Johansen, president of ConocoPhillips Alaska.
ConocoPhillips was awarded 98 exploration lease tracts in the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean in 2008. The company said it is Alaska’s largest oil producer, operating the Kuparuk and Alpine fields and maintaining interests in the Trans Alaska Pipeline Systems and in Prudhoe Bay.
The decision to halt plans in Chukshi Sea comes on the heels of Royal Dutch Shell PLC RDSA -0.02% decision not to drill in offshore Alaska  this year after a series of mishaps with its operations.
Shell is facing government probes into its Alaska drilling program. Incidents included the Kulluk rig running aground on New Year’s Eve.

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