'Another Arctic Victory' as Norwegian Oil Giant Abandons Offshore Leases

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'Another Arctic Victory' as Norwegian Oil Giant Abandons Offshore Leases

Following Shell's departure, Statoil will stop looking for oil in Alaska's Chukchi Sea

Activists confront a Shell drilling rig in Port Angeles, Washington before it set sail for Arctic Waters in April 2015. (Photo: Conatzer Visuals/Backbone Campaign/cc)

Activists confront a Shell drilling rig in Port Angeles, Washington before it set sail for Arctic Waters in April 2015. (Photo: Conatzer Visuals/Backbone Campaign/cc)

Norweigan oil company Statoil on Tuesday announced that, following in the footsteps of Royal Dutch Shell, it too would end its Arctic oil exploration program.

Although their terms do not expire until 2020, the oil giant is abandoning 16 Statoil-operated leases, and its stake in 50 leases operated by ConocoPhillips, all in Alaska's Chukchi Sea. No wells were ever drilled.

"Since 2008 we have worked to progress our options in Alaska. Solid work has been carried out, but given the current outlook we could not support continued efforts to mature these opportunities," says Tim Dodson, executive vice president for exploration in Statoil, in a press statement. 

Environmental groups have for years waged a fierce campaign against drilling in the Arctic, highlighting the dangers it poses to the pristine ecosystem as well the inevitable contribution to global warming through the burning of even more fossil fuels.

Shell's decision to end its Arctic exploration program in September was met with relief and delight from campaigners and Tuesday's Statoil announcement was heralded with similar expressions of glee:

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