Royal Dutch Shell said Monday it was halting its search for oil off the Alaskan coast, with environmentalists claiming a huge victory in their battle to protect local wildlife.
The Anglo-Dutch energy giant said in a statement that its Burger J well in the Chukchi Sea, off the northwest coast of Alaska, did not warrant further exploration owing to insufficient oil and gas being located and because of regulatory uncertainties.
Shell, describing its decision to pull out of Alaska as “disappointing,” added that its withdrawal would cost it $4.1 billion, heaping further pressure on a company and sector hit by sliding oil prices.
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The energy titan, which began drilling in July after President Barack Obama approved the exploration, said Alaska remained an area of major importance for the U.S. energy supply.
With this in mind, Greenpeace urged Obama to ban all energy companies from launching drilling projects in the region.
“Big oil has sustained an unmitigated defeat,” Greenpeace’s U.K. executive director John Sauven said in a statement.
“Now President Obama should use his remaining months in office to say that no other oil company will be licensed to drill in the American Arctic.”
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Greenpeace’s petition to “Save the Arctic” has seven million signatures from around the globe, including a number of high-profile celebrities.
“They had a budget of billions, we had a movement of millions,” noted Sauven in reference to the money invested by Shell in the failed project.
“The ‘unpredictable regulatory environment’ that forced Shell out of the Arctic is otherwise known as massive pressure from more than 7 million people.
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“For three years we faced them down, and the people won,” he added.
Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett called Monday’s announcement “wonderful news for the people and wildlife of the Arctic region, but it must become a turning point in the fight to prevent catastrophic climate change.”