BOEM Calls for Comment on Potential Oil, Gas Lease Sale Offshore Alaska
As part of the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy development, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued a Call for Information and Nominations relating to a potential oil and gas Lease Sale 237 scheduled for the Chukchi Sea Planning Area off of Alaska in 2016.
The 45-day Call is the first step in the region-specific, targeted approach to leasing offshore Alaska, as established in the current Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program 2012-2017 (Five Year Program), which BOEM published last summer.
"The Chukchi Sea has substantial oil and gas potential, but also is a unique and sensitive environment that provides for the subsistence of Alaska Natives living on the North Slopes," said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. "Any future leasing in the Chukchi Sea must be focused on areas that can be developed safely and responsible while also protecting sensitive habitats and places that are important to Alaska Native hunters and fishermen."
Targeted leasing differs significantly from the area-wide leasing model that is appropriate for the Gulf of Mexico, and is designed to result in a more focused leasing configuration that offers areas with the most promising oil and gas resource potential while also protecting environmentally sensitive habitats and important social and cultural uses, including subsistence hunting and fishing activity.
Consistent with targeted leasing, the Call is designed to provide BOEM with information about interest in offshore oil and gas leasing by requesting that industry identify specific blocks in the Chukchi Sea Program Area, located in the Arctic off Alaska's northwest coast, that appear promising for oil and gas exploration and development.
The Call requests that industry rank its interest in particular areas according to five levels of priority ranging from "critical interest" to "no interest" and provide detailed information about the basis for its level of interest in any nominated areas, including a summary of the relevant geologic, geophysical and economic information. The Call also asks all interested parties for comments and information about other information relevant to BOEM's analysis of areas for potential leasing, geological conditions such as bottom hazards; archaeological sites on the seabed or nearshore; multiple uses of the area, including navigation and subsistence; and other socioeconomic, biological or environmental information.
The Call is an early step in the offshore oil and gas planning process and does not indicate a final decision about any areas in the Chukchi Sea that may be offered for oil and gas leasing in the future. BOEM will make decisions about potential areas for leasing after evaluating industry interest in the resource potential of specific areas, continuing its development and analysis of scientific information and traditional knowledge regarding environmental issues and potential conflicts with uses such as subsistence hunting and fishing, and conducting thorough environmental reviews and consultations under the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws. BOEM also will coordinate closely other relevant federal agencies, the State of Alaska and local governments, Alaska Native tribes and organizations, and stakeholders throughout this process.
The Call is available for public inspection in the Federal Register at: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2013-23670.pdf
Comments on the lease sale proposal may be submitted to BOEM in accordance with the instructions in the Federal Register notice. Additional information about targeted leasing is available on the BOEM Alaska OCS Region website at: www.boem.gov/ak237