Exxon sues over canceled oil leases
HOUSTON - Exxon Mobil Corp. has sued the Interior Department, asking a judge to set aside the agency’s decision to cancel offshore leases that may yield “billions of barrels of oil.’’
The department overstepped its authority in a ruling on Gulf of Mexico leases for the so-called Julia Unit, Exxon Mobil said in a complaint filed Aug. 12 in federal court in Lake Charles, La. Statoil ASA, a partner of Exxon Mobil’s in the Julia fields, filed a similar lawsuit in the same court on Aug. 15.
“The Interior decision is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law’’ and “deprives Exxon Mobil of property without due process of law,’’ the Irving, Texas-based company said in its complaint.
Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, said federal regulations allow oil producers to suspend production in their fields, partly “to facilitate proper development of a lease.’’ Because of drilling complexity, Exxon Mobil said, it asked for a suspension for Julia in 2008.
The Interior Department denied the request in 2009, stating the company “had not demonstrated a commitment to production,’’ according to court papers.
Unsuccessful appeals followed.
The Interior Department is reviewing the Exxon Mobil complaint, a spokeswoman for the department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement said in an e-mailed statement.