Repsol, a Spanish oil company which owned a significant portion of the drilling leases for Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, abandoned 55 of them last week and plans to drop the remaining 38 next year.
“Repsol is in the process of relinquishing its Chukchi Sea acreage position offshore Alaska,” Repsol spokeswoman Jan Sieving said in a statement.
The Spanish company joins the rush of oil drillers — Shell, ConocoPhillips, Eni, and Iona Energy — departing the Arctic region after concluding that offshore drilling is not worth the expense or the risk. After Shell spent over $4 billion attempting to develop offshore Arctic oil and completing just one exploratory well, it said it was done in the Chukchi “for the foreseeable future.” This was two years after Shell’s Kulluk rig ran aground and had to get rescued by the Coast Guard heading south attempting to avoid paying more taxes in 2013.
Apart from one token Shell lease block that the company is retaining to keep the information it gained from its failed 2015 exploratory well, Repsol’s leases were the last blocks remaining in the Chukchi.
“Last month we figured out that Shell and a bunch of other companies had given up their leases,” said Mike Levine, Oceana’s Pacific senior counsel, told ThinkProgress. “After eight years, billions of dollars, and significant controversy, we’re back to a clean slate in the Chukchi sea.”
I always thought that drilling in the Chukchi Sea was incredibly risky to our environment and was very upset then President Obama gave Shell Oil a permit to start exploring for oil there in 2015.
However I seemed to have underestimated our President, which is something I swore I would not do again, and late in 2015 he refused to issue any more licenses and then sat back waiting for these companies to fail and give up, which they have now done.
So now the pristine environment of the northern Alaska sea appears to be safe.
At least for now. Assuming of course we can keep Republicans out of the White House.