HOUSTON, April 25 ConocoPhillips, which has put
its Alaskan drilling plans on hold because of regulatory
uncertainty, will not drill exploration wells in the Chukchi Sea
any sooner than 2015, the company's chief financial officer said
"It's not going to be 2014, so what that really means is
2015 at the earliest," Jeff Sheets, Conoco's CFO said in an
interview. "It's something we will continue to evaluate and will
continue to try and understand what the requirements are going
to be to operate out there."
Earlier this month, Conoco said it would not be prudent to
invest in the Chukchi Sea now because of "evolving" federal
regulations and permit standards.
Conoco's decision not to drill two exploration wells next
year in the Chukchi Sea follows Royal Dutch Shell Plc's
announcement in February that it would not drill in Alaska's
Arctic seas this year after a 2012 season that culminated in the
grounding of its drillship in a storm.
Conoco, which reported first-quarter earnings earlier on
Thursday that met Wall Street expectations, is also
contemplating a bigger investment in Alaska after that state's
legislators slashed oil production taxes.
"We are currently analyzing the possible impact to our
business including where we could or would increase investment
in Alaska," Matt Fox, Conoco's head of exploration and
production said on a conference call with analysts.
Conoco's current Alaska production fell nearly 8 percent in
the first quarter to 218,000 barrels oil equivalent per day, but
new work is planned for the North Slope.