UPDATE 1-Chevron cancels Canadian Arctic drilling as oil prices slide

Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:08pm EST
 
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CALGARY, Alberta Dec 17 (Reuters) - Chevron Corp is putting a plan to drill for oil in the Beaufort Sea in Canada's Arctic on hold indefinitely because of what it called "economic uncertainty in the industry" as oil prices fall.

In a letter to Canada's National Energy Board on Wednesday, the company withdrew from a hearing on Arctic drilling rules because it has walked away from plans to drill in the EL 481 block, 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories.

The drilling project is the largest yet put on hold after oil prices dropped by nearly half over the last six months, even as a long list of oil companies cut their budgets for 2015 because of the price drop.

"Chevron has put its drilling plans for EL 481 on hold indefinitely," the company said in its letter to the regulator, which was confirmed by a spokesman.

The San Ramon, California-based company has been planning the well since 2009 and had planned to drill the prospect in the 2020s, according to filings.

Imperial Oil Ltd, the operator of a joint venture with Exxon Mobil Corp and BP Plc, said they are not changing early-stage plans to drill in the Beaufort Sea but have yet to make a final decision on the project. (Reporting by Scott Haggett and Nia Williams; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Steve Orlofsky)