The Minerals Management Service said today that it will evaluate a possible lease sale in the Chukchi Sea in 2007 based on renewed industry interest in the area. The agency said it will not continue with proposed sales in Norton Sound and Hope basin in the current five-year program due to lack of industry interest in those areas.
MMS issued a call for information Feb. 9, asking industry to nominate focused areas of interest.
“We received broader industry interest in the Chukchi Sea planning area than expected,” John Goll, MMS Alaska regional directory, said in a statement. “So we will proceed with the process to evaluate holding a conventional areawide sale.”
Goll said the sale would not include the near-shore “polynya” area, the open-lead area that whales use for migration, which is excluded from the current MMS five-year program.
MMS said it is starting its environmental evaluation and scoping and will prepare an environmental impact statement. The area being considered for assessment in the EIS is the same area depicted for the Chukchi Sea in the agency’s February call for information. The agency plans to announce the area identification for the sale in January.
“It may not be possible for us to complete the evaluation and hold the sale in the current five-year program, which began in July 2002 and expires in June 2007,” Goll said.
If the sale process is not completed in time for this five-year program, he said, a Chukchi Sea sale could be included in the next five-year program, 2007-2012.