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BP's decision shows a rational business approach," says WWF's Mikhail Babenko. "If you add up the real costs, drilling for oil in the Arctic is too expensive and risky. Economic analysis demonstrates that oil and gas development in the Arctic offshore is not economically viable if a company is to follow adequate preparedness, prevention and response standards."

Rod Downie, WWF-UK's polar expert, added;
"The risks of drilling in the Arctic ocean are unacceptably high and unmanageable. A major spill in ice would be impossible to clean up, and would result in significant long term impact. BP's move follows on from German Bank WestLB's recent decision not to finance offshore oil rigs in the Arctic on the grounds of its environmental policy, the inherent risks of operating in ice-infested waters, and the economic cost of remediation."

Another oil company is still planning to proceed with drilling in Alaskan waters this year. However, Shell's plans have been delayed by ice conditions and government permitting for one of the company's boats.