BP Won't Drill in Alaska

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BP Won't Drill in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- British oil giant BP Plc said it had pulled out of a group lobbying to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil production but would consider drilling there if lawmakers gave the green light.

A BP spokesman told Reuters the London-based energy company had stopped contributions to Anchorage-based Arctic Power, founded in 1992 to lobby U.S. authorities to allow oil production in the Coastal Plain of north Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

BP's Prudhoe Bay facilities produce 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil, making the company the largest producer in Alaska, but the U.S. state's discovered reserves are in decline and the search has begun for new fields.

Environmental groups welcomed BP's decision to pull out of Arctic Power and repeated their opposition to oil exploration in the protected areas, which are home to polar bears, caribou and other wildlife, the report said.

But the current domination of the U.S. Congress by the Republican Party, which supports opening up the Arctic Refuge for oil exploration, makes it more likely President George W. Bush can push through new legislation letting companies expand into the refuge, east of the Prudhoe Bay facilities.