The U.S. Department of the Interior is delaying two Arctic Outer Continental Shelf lease sales by one year to accommodate environmental evaluations of the region.
When the department unveils its final proposed Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program later this week it will include a sale in the Chukchi Sea in 2016 and a sale in the Beaufort Sea in 2017, a year later than the dates proposed last November, Secretary Ken Salazar announced today while at a conference in Norway.
Additionally, the leasing program will exclude an area north of Barrow — “one that has not historically attracted industry interest and that has very high subsistence value to Native Alaskan communities,” Salazar said — and will maintain a 25-mile buffer along the coast of the Chukchi considered to be an important region for Native subsistence use.
Salazar described the efforts as part of a “targeted leasing” approach. “Our goal is to maximize the availability of oil and gas resources in those areas that we are making available for leasing, while minimizing potential conflicts with environmentally sensitive areas and the Native Alaskan communities that rely on the ocean for subsistence use,” Salazar said. “To achieve this, we are taking a different approach — a more strategic approach — than the past. Specifically, we intend to gather information from industry, Native Alaskan communities, the scientific community, and the public to identify specific high-resource, low-conflict areas that are best suited for exploration and development.”
See full story in July 1 issue, available at 11 a.m. Friday, June 29, at www.PetroleumNews.com