Another oil company ends Arctic drilling hopes

Another oil company ends Arctic drilling hopes

A Spanish oil company has become the latest to abandon its federal drilling leases in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea. 

Repsol announced late Tuesday that it is pulling out of the Arctic and closing its Alaskan office in Anchorage, The Alaska Dispatch News reports

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Repsol held 93 federal leases in the Chukchi Sea, a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management official told the paper. Because several companies have also dropped plans to drill in the Arctic, Repsol said it wouldn’t be able to partner with other companies to develop oil there. 

"Successful development in the Chukchi Sea will require sufficient synergies and partnerships with other energy companies," a Repsol spokeswoman told the Dispatch News.

Repsol — which still holds leases in the Beaufort Sea in the eastern Arctic — is the latest company to cut short its plans to drill in the oil-rich Chukchi. 

Environmental group Oceana reported last month that oil companies including ConocoPhillips Co., Italy’s Eni and Iona Energy, Inc., and Royal Dutch Shell have abandoned hundreds of offshore drilling lease rights in the U.S.’s portion of the Arctic Ocean. 

Companies have abandoned 2.2 million acres of drilling rights, the group said, including 80 percent of the area leased in a major 2008 sale. 

The move comes after Shell announced in September it would stop exploring for oil after drilling a single well in the Chukchi. 

Green groups contend the exodus from the Arctic should lead the Obama administration to block future lease sales there. 

“It’s time the Obama Administration listens to the Arctic communities, climate and environmental activists, and the oil companies and protects the Arctic Ocean from the threat of offshore drilling,” said Dan Ritzman, the director of the Sierra Club’s Arctic Operations.