Citing approval delays, oil company drops leases in areas adjacent to Glacier NP

HELENA, Mont. — ConocoPhillips is relinquishing its interest in oil and gas leases on 169,000 acres next to Glacier National Park, saying Wednesday that a yearslong court-ordered suspension had brought any chance of developing the land to a standstill.

The Houston-based oil giant has owned the leases in the Flathead River's North Fork watershed since 1982, ConocoPhillips spokesman Charlie Rowton said. But a mid-1980s court ruling found the Bureau of Land Management's leases had not been properly issued and suspended surface drilling in the area.

The company believes it could have developed the leases in an environmentally responsible manner, but it agreed when Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester recently asked ConocoPhillips to voluntarily retire the leases, Rowton said.

The company will not be compensated, he said.

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