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Repsol to abandon all 93 Chukchi Sea leases: spokesman

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Washington — Repsol has abandoned 55 of its oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea and plans to abandon the remaining 38 over the next year, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

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"Repsol is in the process of relinquishing its Chukchi Sea acreage position offshore Alaska," spokeswoman Jan Sieving said in a statement.

The company relinquished the 55 leases on June 1, Sieving said.

Repsol's 93 Chukchi leases covered nearly 530,000 total acres and were bought by the company for $15 million in 2008.

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Repsol's decision to give up these leases means that a single lease held by Shell will be the lone active lease remaining in the Chukchi.

In recent months, ConocoPhillips, Eni, Iona Energy and Shell have given up more than 350 leases covering more than 2 million acres in the Chukchi, according to a review of US Interior Department documents by Oceana, an environmental group.

In September, Shell said it was abandoning its Arctic drilling efforts after an exploratory well in the Burger prospect of the Chukchi failed to find significant oil or gas. That announcement followed seven years and roughly $7 billion spent.

In addition to the Chukchi, Sieving said Repsol will "continue to evaluate" its leases in the Beaufort Sea it holds jointly with Eni and Shell.

"Some blocks may be relinquished periodically as the portfolio is high graded," she said.

Eni, Shell and Repsol hold 22 Beaufort leases covering about 104,000 acres under a joint ownership agreement, according to Oceana. Eni and Repsol hold another seven Beaufort leases covering about 24,000 acres under a similar arrangement.

In total, 71 Beaufort leases covering nearly 367,000 remain of the 240 lease leases covering over 1.3 million acres initially sold in three separate lease sales.

Sieving said Repsol was also considering relinquishing onshore and near-shore state acreage it holds jointly with Armstrong Oil and Gas, but said it is "fully supporting" its joint Pikka Unit development project with Armstrong.

--Brian Scheid,

--Edited by Jason Lindquist,