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Win: Another Oil Firm Halts Its Arctic Drilling Plans

ConocoPhillips's announcement it is halting its Arctic drilling plans for 2014 follows similar announcements from Statoil and Shell

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

ConocoPhillips announced Wednesday that it was putting its Arctic drilling plans for 2014 on hold, news environmental groups cheered as they continue to campaign to save the region from the pursuit of fossil fuels.

“Another oil company shelving its plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean is good for the whales, polar bears and communities that depend on a healthy ocean," said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

"There’s no safe way to drill for oil in the remote and harsh Arctic environment, so we’re enthusiastic about ConocoPhillips’ decision to abandon its 2014 drilling plans,” stated Noblin.

ConocoPhillips' announcement follows Norwegian company Statoil's news last month that it might completely abandon its plans for Arctic drilling after initially saying it would hold off until 2015

"There’s no safe way to drill for oil in the remote and harsh Arctic environment, so we’re enthusiastic about ConocoPhillips’ decision to abandon its 2014 drilling plans." — Rebecca Noblin, Center for Biological Diversity Shell is also on the growing list of oil firms halting Arctic drilling plans; in February, it announced it was suspending its 2013 Arctic drilling program following a mishap-laden year.

Welcoming ConocoPhillips' decision, on Thursday ocean conservation group Oceana stated that Shell's  attempts at Arctic drilling highlight the dangers inherent in drilling in the fragile region:

The Arctic is a remote and harsh place, which makes it an exceptionally difficult environment to conduct industrial activity.  Shell demonstrated that in spades last year with countless mishaps and violations, that culminated in the grounding of the Kulluk drill rig and landed both of Shell’s Arctic drilling vessels in dry dock for major repairs.  Existing technology, regulations and plans are not sufficient for protecting Arctic ecosystems and opportunities for subsistence, especially in the event of a major oil spill.

Greenpeace cheered the three announcements of halts in Arctic drilling plans, saying on Thursday it was

fantastic news for the Arctic environment and the nearly 3 million strong global movement demanding a total ban on oil drilling and industrial fishing in this fragile region. Although Statoil, ConocoPhillips and all oil companies should commit to no Arctic drilling ever, any setback the oil industry suffers in their plans to exploit the Arctic is one step closer to making it permanent.

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