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Department of Interior seeking industry input on interest in potential oil and gas lease sale in Alaska’s Cook Inlet

The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 (earlier post) includes one potential special-interest lease sale in the Cook Inlet Planning Area (Sale 244). DOI is now seeking input from the oil and gas industry to determine interest in exploration off the coast of South-Central Alaska—a key step in the planning process for a potential oil and natural gas lease sale in the Cook Inlet.

A special-interest lease sale first asks operators to nominate specific tracts in the planning area they potentially would be interested in exploring and developing through a Request for Interest (RFI). This initial request asks industry, the public, and key stakeholders about geologic, biological, archaeological, subsistence and/or or socio-economic conditions that might bear on potential leasing and development decisions.

This is the first step in a careful process designed both to gauge industry interest in oil and gas exploration in the Cook Inlet Planning Area, and to develop information about the potential effects of that activity. Through this process, BOEM will consider a range of important factors including industry interest, resource potential, and the need to protect and respect Alaska’s communities and unique environments.

—BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau

The publication of this RFI does not indicate a decision to lease in the Cook Inlet Planning Area. BOEM will not make a decision about any potential lease sale before finalizing the 2012–2017 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, and determining whether there is adequate interest in holding this sale and conducting thorough environmental reviews.

If BOEM moves forward with planning for the potential sale, the bureau will then conduct environmental review and consultation under the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws. BOEM will remain in close coordination with the state of Alaska, as well as with local and Native Alaskan governments, and other stakeholders throughout this process.

Between 1978 and 1985, 13 exploration wells were drilled in the federal waters of the Cook Inlet Planning Area. Currently, there are no active oil or gas exploration or development facilities in the federal waters there. The area’s state waters contain 16 production platforms, 12 of which are currently active.

The DOI says that the Proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 makes more than 75% of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources estimated in federal offshore areas available for exploration and development.

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