Oil, Gas Exploration May Increase In Chukchi Sea

More areas of the Chukchi Sea may open up for oil and gas exploration in 2016, but the decision has not been made yet. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is calling for comments on a proposed lease sale in the area. But this time they are doing things differently.

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BOEM Regional Director James Kendall says they are only proposing to open small, targeted areas for leasing, not the whole region.

The current call for comments lets stakeholders say which areas they want included and excluded.

“This way we see where industry is really interested in the resources and we can focus our other stakeholders on areas they’re concerned about and try to de-conflict the two,” Kendall said.

In order to do that, they are asking for very specific comments from the public and from industry. Kendall says they want to know exactly what areas are used for specific purposes or for animal migration and when.

“We’re looking for substantive pieces of information that will help us make this decision,” Kendall said. “This is an opportunity for everyone to roll up their sleeves and go through this very meticulous process.”

Kendall says they are keeping in mind Shell’s current activities in the region and the challenges they have faced. They will be considered during this process.

He emphasizes that the new lease sale is only proposed and no definite decision has been made. People have 45 days, until Nov. 10, to submit comments. Then the comments will be reviewed before the bureau prepares a draft environmental impact statement about the suggested areas.