(CN) – Shell has ditched its oil exploration of the Arctic, weeks after receiving the go-ahead from the U.S. government and tangling with protestors in Portland, Ore.
Reuters reported that Royal Dutch Shell would pull out of the Chukchi Sea after finding too little crude to make the operation profitable – particularly in light of the dangers involved, tight federal regulations and the plunge in crude oil prices over the last year.
Shell has already spent about $7 billion on exploration off the coast of Alaska. Analysts at Deutsche Bank told Reuters ditching the project could cost the company as much as $9 billion.
Besides fighting the U.S. government for permission to explore the ecologically sensitive Alaskan coast, Shell has battled environmentalists for years over the project. The oil giant sued Greenpeace in 2012 and again earlier this year after activists boarded Shell vessels in an effort to stop the exploration.
A federal judge’s order creating “safety zones” that keep Greenpeace from coming within 500 to 1,500 feet of Shell’s fleet has been appealed to the Ninth Circuit, although it is unclear what effect Shell’s decision to leave Alaska will have on the case.
In July, Greenpeace and local activists in Portland, Oregon, dangled from the St. Johns Bridge and used kayaks to block one of Shell’s icebreakers from leaving port on the Willamette River to join the fleet in the Chukchi Sea.
The Fennica eventually left Oregon after a federal judge fined Greenpeace $2,500 for every hour protestors blocked the river.
Days later, the U.S. Coast Guard also fined individual protestors up to $25,000 for the stunt.
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