In 28 March, BOEM announced it would publish in the Federal Register a call for information and nominations covering a proposed lease sale in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea Planning Area in 2019. The proposed sale is listed in the draft proposed 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program that the Secretary of the Interior announced on 4 January.
Dr. James Kendall, director of BOEM’s Alaska OCS Region, said:
Available information indicates that the Beaufort Sea possesses great oil and gas potential. It also contains unique, environmentally sensitive areas important to the subsistence needs of the region’s Alaska Native communities. This process will help us identify not only the areas that can be safely and responsibly developed, but also those areas that should be protected for wildlife and traditional uses.
Responding, Margaret Williams, WWF managing director of US Arctic programs, stated:
At a time when the world is embracing clean, renewable energy like never before, the last thing we need to do is intensify exploration for fossil fuels – especially in the unforgiving waters of the Arctic Ocean.
The publication of the Beaufort Sea Call will initiate a 30-day comment period ending on April 30, 2018. Once the call is complete and the comments have been analyzed, BOEM will proceed with the next step in the process, area Identification.
In November 2017, the US BSEE approved Eni's application to conduct Arctic exploration operations on the Outer Continental Shelf, for the first time in more than two years.