In an announcement this morning on outer continental shelf oil and gas lease sale plans, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said that President Obama is withdrawing Bristol Bay from consideration for oil and gas development through 2017.
No further Chukchi Sea or Beaufort Sea sales will be held under the 2007-12 OCS leasing program, but a Cook Inlet lease sale will be held in 2012 if there is industry interest in such a sale.
The administration is, however, supporting exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas which could begin as early as this summer to develop critical information.
“If we are to responsibly develop resources in frontier areas we must expand exploration activities, gather the science needed, and listed to affected communities,” Salazar said in a statement.
The secretary has asked the U.S. Geological Survey to assess what information is known and what is not known about resources, risks and environmental sensitivities in Arctic areas.
Interior will gather scientific information, conduct environmental scoping and hold public meetings to determine if 2012-17 leasing is appropriate. The proposed scoping includes the Gulf of Mexico, much of the Atlantic OCS and the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.
Editor’s note: see full story in April 4 issue, available online to subscribers at noon, Friday, April 2 at www.PetroleumNews.com