ConocoPhillips’ decision against 2014 drilling is “great news”

Apr 10, 2013

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (April 10, 2013) – Months after Shell’s series of humiliating technical missteps brought increased scrutiny from the U.S. Department of the Interior, ConocoPhillips cited “uncertainties of evolving federal regulatory requirements” and announced today that it is dropping plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean in 2014. 

"This recognition by ConocoPhillips of the complicated, expensive, and highly risky nature of Arctic Ocean drilling is great news,” said The Wilderness Society’s Arctic program director and Alaska-licensed engineer, Lois Epstein. “The Bush administration leased Arctic Ocean areas prematurely, and industry and government are now coming to terms with the problems resulting from that decision.”

Epstein serves on the Department of the Interior’s Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee, which has recommended that the federal government develop Arctic-specific standards to regulate offshore drilling and production in one of the harshest and most remote environments in the world.

“The U.S. needs to show leadership by performing sufficient Arctic Ocean science, protecting sensitive offshore areas, ensuring effective recovery of spilled oil, and developing Arctic-specific regulatory standards before allowing drilling to proceed,” Epstein said.

“We saw clearly in 2012 that Shell drastically underestimated the challenges of operating in Arctic conditions.  It would be a costly mistake for industry to proceed with Arctic Ocean drilling at this time.

“Any oil produced in the Arctic Ocean would be among the most expensive in the world,” Epstein added.  “With unconventional oil production now on the increase, companies are smart to avoid drilling in the Arctic Ocean, one of the most sensitive, harsh, and remote environments in the world.”


The Wilderness Society is the leading public-lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, TWS has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.