Shell's departure will mean no drill rigs in Chukchi Sea

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell has announced it will end exploration in the Chukchi Sea "for the foreseeable future."

The company cited disappointing results from a well drilled during the 2015 open water season in the waters north of the Bering Strait off Alaska's northwest coast. In its announcement Monday, the company also cited the "challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska."

Shell in February 2008 was by far the most robust bidder for Chukchi Sea leases and its departure means no company has plans on the books to drill there. ConocoPhillips also committed substantial funds for leases.

Here are the players in the Chukchi:


Bidding as Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc., the company submitted 275 high bids at a cost of $2.1 billion. Shell bid $105 million for one tract that worked out to be $18,497 per acre. Shell was outbid on 27 tracts other tracts. Shell committed upward of $7 billion for Arctic offshore exploration.


The oil giant paid $506 million for 98 tracts. ConocoPhillips was outbid on 47 other tracts. The company made plans for an exploratory well in 2014 but backed off in April 2013. The company said that given the huge investment required to operate offshore in the Arctic, it would not be prudent to move ahead until regulatory requirements were clarified.


Other national and international oil companies also have smaller lease holdings in the Chukchi Sea:

— Spain-based Repsol E&P USA Inc. paid $14.4 million for 93 leases.

— Norway-based Statoil Hydro USA E&P, Inc. paid $14.4 million for 16 tracts.

— Italian company Eni Petroleum US LLC pay $8.9 million for 17 tracts.

— Iona Energy Co. (US) Limited, a Canadian company operating in Scotland, and U.S.-based North American Civil Recoveries Arbitrage were high bidders for one tract each at $61,000 and $400, respectively.