Oil Majors Exit Offshore Arctic 

Published at 10:14AM - 09/06/16

Repsol has handed over the last of its 93 leases in the Chukchi Sea, offshore Alaska, leaving Shell as the only leaseholder in the area.

The Spanish oil company, who had spent US$15 million (£10.3 million) in 2008 in these blocks, joins a list of at least four others who have given up drilling in the Arctic offshore Alaska, namely Shell, ConocoPhillips, Statoil and Eni.

“Repsol is in the process of relinquishing its Chuckchi Sea acreage position offshore Alaska”, spokeswoman Jan Sieving said in a statement.

Oil Majors Exit Offshore Arctic

According to the spokeswoman, the company handed over 55 leases on June 1 and will be closing its offices in Anchorage as a result.

The leases were part of a group of nearly 500 blocks in the Chukchi Sea originally sold in a record-breaking lease sale in 2008, when Arctic assets were considered as a promising bet.

This leaves Shell as the only leaseholder in the Chukchi Sea, although the well in question had been abandoned in 2015 and was only kept to safeguard information.

Shell took the decision to forfeit all but this lease in May, seven months after it announced it was halting exploration in the area for the foreseeable future.

Shell Hands Over Arctic Leases

Following Shell’s decision to exit, the U.S. Interior Department had already announced it would cancel the offshore lease sales planned by 2017.

“In light of Shell’s announcement, the amount of acreage already under lease and current market conditions, it does not make sense to prepare for lease sales in the Arctic in the next year and a half”, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said at the time.

Yesterday, Shell Canada announced it had handed over its offshore oil drilling licenses in the Canadian Arctic to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, for the construction of a nationally protected marine park for whales and numerous other mammals and birds.