Conoco puts U.S. arctic campaign on hold

April 11, 2013 at 8:16 AM
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska, April 11 (UPI) -- It's not practical to move ahead with exploration plans in the arctic waters offshore Alaska next year given regulatory uncertainty, ConocoPhillips said.

A 56-page report published last week by the U.S. Interior Department said changes in arctic sea ice cover is sparking interest of offshore developers keen on tapping into unexplored reserves of oil and natural gas.

U.S. Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes said that while the report doesn't represent any major policy initiative, "it is imperative that we reduce redundancies and streamline federal efforts as we safely and responsibly explore and develop Alaska's vast resources."

Conoco said there were uncertainties in the way in which the federal government would manage arctic resources, adding "it would not be prudent" to go ahead with a campaign next year.

"While we are confident in our own expertise and ability to safely conduct offshore Arctic operations, we believe that more time is needed to ensure that all regulatory stakeholders are aligned," Conoco's regional President Trond-Erik Johansen said.

Conoco in 2008 secured 98 lease tracts in the Chukchi Sea.

Arctic exploration was suspended by Royal Dutch Shell after equipment malfunctions and weather delays hampered the company's development plans in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

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