ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- It's the president's fault that another major energy company has folded up its tent and left Alaska behind, the chair of the Senate energy committee said.
Norwegian energy company Statoil announced it was abandoning its leases in the Chukchi Sea and closing its offices in Anchorage, Alaska. Statoil's decision followed a similar move by Royal Dutch Shell.
"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," U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said in a statement.
Statoil's leases would've expired in 2020. The company only referenced "the current outlook" in its decision to leave Alaska behind. Shell, for its part, said the lack of exploration success, high costs and a challenging regulatory regime meant it was time to abandon its Alaska program for the foreseeable future.
Lower crude oil prices have forced some companies to shelve some programs in an effort to streamline capital. For Statoil, leaving Alaska was about "optimizing its portfolio, strengthening financial performance, and positioning for long-term value."
The Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement had denied Shell's request to extend the expiration date of its leases in arctic Alaskan waters.
Oceana, an advocacy group concerned about the health of the world's oceans, welcomed Statoil's decision as a sign of a changing outlook on environments like the arctic waters offshore Alaska.
"Pursuing oil and gas in the U.S. Arctic Ocean is too risky and expensive for both the environment and companies' economic portfolios," Susan Murray, Oceana's regional deputy vice president, said in an emailed statement.