By November 18, 2015 Read More →

Murkowski blames Obama for Statoil, Shell abandoning Arctic drilling

Murkowski says problems with regulatory environment for Arctic drilling are responsibility of Obama Administration

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is blaming the Obama Administration for Statoil’s decision to end Alaska operations and give back leases Alaska’s Arctic offshore frontier the company won in 2008.


Arctic offshore drilling abandoned by Shell, Statoil.

“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.

Murkowski says that while “low oil prices may have contributed to Statoil’s decision, the real “project killer” was the decision by President Barack Obama’s administration to refuse 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,” Murkowski said in a press release.


Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski.

“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,” said Tim Dodson, executive vice president for exploration in Statoil.

American Energy News reported Tuesday that Statoil says it is also abandoning its stake in 50 Chukchi leases operated by ConocoPhillips which are due to expire in 2020 without drilling a single exploratory well in the region.

Statoil’s announcement comes after a late September decision by Royal Dutch Shell PLC to abandon drilling in U.S. Arctic waters “for the foreseeable future.” At the time, Shell cited disappointing results from an exploratory well and a challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.

Murkowski says the northern waters off Alaska’s Arctic coastline holds an estimated 24 billion barrels of oil and 104 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to federal estimates. Statoil’s Chukchi leases are located roughly 40 miles north of Shell’s Burger prospect.

Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, is pushing to end the federal government’s overreaching regulations, which she says are hurting Alaskans across the state.


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