Repsol latest in string of oil companies to leave Chukchi Sea

Repsol is the latest in a string of oil companies to give up on offshore drilling in Alaska. Repsol screenshot June 8, 2015.
Repsol is the latest in a string of oil companies to give up on offshore drilling in Alaska. Repsol screenshot June 8, 2015.

The Spanish oil company Repsol has relinquished its leases in the Chukchi Sea. It’s the latest in a string of companies to give up on drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska.

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In the seven months since Shell abandoned its controversial and expensive quest to drill in the Arctic, at least four other companies have given up leases in the region, including ConocoPhillips, Norway’s Statoil and the Italian company ENI.

The Alaska Dispatch News first reported Repsol’s decision.

In an emailed statement, Repsol spokesperson Jan Sieving said the fact that other companies have left the region was “a factor” in Repsol’s decision, since any development would require partners.

The company formally gave up the last of its 93 leases in the Chukchi Sea on May 26, said John Callahan, of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

That leaves Shell as the sole leaseholder in the Chukchi Sea. It has retained the lease block where it drilled a single exploration well in 2015, to keep data from that well private, Callahan said.

Repsol still holds 29 leases in the Beaufort Sea, to the east. Sieving said the company is continuing to evaluate whether to retain those leases.

Repsol is also a partner with Armstrong Oil and Gas in the onshore Pikka Unit on the North Slope, but Sieving said the company has closed its Anchorage office as Armstrong took over leadership of that project.