ConocoPhillips cancels 2014 Chukchi exploration plans

ConocoPhillips has cancelled plans to drill in the Chukchi Sea because of federal regulatory uncertainty, the company said Apr. 10.

Previously, Royal Dutch Sell PLC suspended its 2013 drilling plans off Alaska. Statoil last year said it would delay the start of drilling in the US Arctic until 2015.

Trond-Erik Johansen, ConocoPhillips Alaska president, said the company will evaluate its drilling plans again when regulatory requirements are better understood.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell said he was disappointed by Conoco’s decision. “The federal government’s inability to provide regulatory certainty is once again reducing jobs and economic opportunities for Alaskans,” Parnell said.

He encouraged ConocoPhillips to invest more in state lands to provide more opportunity for Alaskans.

Shell is working on its drilling equipment. The Kulluk drilling unit was driven aground by weather on the southeast shoreline of the uninhabited Sitkalidak Island on Dec. 31, 2012, while under tow to Seattle.

The incident resulted in no significant injuries and no environmental impact. After weather delays, the drilling unit was towed Jan. 7 to a safe harbor about 30 miles from where it ran aground (OGJ Online, Jan. 7, 2013).

The US Environmental Protection Agency said the Kulluk and the Noble Discoverer drillship violated numerous conditions of air-quality permits while drilling off Alaska last year (OGJ Online, Jan. 11, 2013).

In December 2012, Noble said it was working to fix deficiencies and maintenance issues raised by the US Coast Guard during an inspection of the drillship following a drilling season offshore Alaska (OGJ Online, Dec. 27, 2012).

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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