Following in the wake of Shell’s decision to abandon its operations in the Arctic, another drilling company has announced that it will be pulling out of the region. In a statement, Norwegian oil company Statoil said:
The leases in the Chukchi Sea are no longer considered competitive within Statoil’s global portfolio, so the decision has been made to exit the leases and close the office in Anchorage, Alaska.
“Since 2008 we have worked to progress our options in Alaska. Solid work has been carried out, but given the current outlook we could not support continued efforts to mature these opportunities,” says Tim Dodson, executive vice president for exploration in Statoil.
The decision means Statoil will exit 16 Statoil-operated leases, and its stake in 50 leases operated by ConocoPhillips, all in the Chukchi Sea. The leases were awarded in the 2008 lease sale in Alaska and expire in 2020.
While environmentalists applaud the decision, not everyone has their party hat on. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is pissed, and she’s directing her rage at one Barack H. Obama.
“I am very concerned that, for the second time in as many months, a major company has decided to walk away from Alaska because of the uncertainty surrounding our federal government’s support for Arctic development,” Murkowski said in a press release. “Low oil prices may have contributed to Statoil’s decision, but the real project killer was this administration’s refusal to grant lease extensions; its imposition of a complicated, drawn-out, and ever-changing regulatory process; and its cancellation of future lease sales that have stifled energy production in Alaska. These actions threaten to undermine Alaska’s economy, our security, and our environment.”
Yup. The environment, which must be what Murkowski calls her share of the oil money.
Unfortunately for those of us who care more about the planet than dividends, this development doesn’t mean that Statoil is getting out the oil business and opening up a solar-powered florist shop.
“The fact of the matter is, Norway is an energy-producing economy,” Heather Conley, Arctic expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told ThinkProgress. “They are not going to stop.”