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US offshore oil and gas leasing plan for 2017-2022 focuses on Gulf of Mexico, excludes Arctic

US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Hopper released the final plan to guide future energy development for the Nation’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for 2017-2022. The Proposed Final Program offers 11 potential lease sales in four planning areas—10 sales in the portions of three Gulf of Mexico Program Areas that are not under moratorium and one sale off the coast of Alaska in the Cook Inlet Program Area.

The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas planning areas in the Arctic are not included in the Proposed Final Program. The Proposed Final Program makes available areas containing approximately 70% of the economically recoverable resources in the OCS.

The plan focuses lease sales in the best places – those with the highest resource potential, lowest conflict, and established infrastructure – and removes regions that are simply not right to lease. Given the unique and challenging Arctic environment and industry’s declining interest in the area, forgoing lease sales in the Arctic is the right path forward.

—Secretary Jewell

Release of the Proposed Final Program, along with the accompanying Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, is one of the final steps in a multi-year process that was initiated in June 2014 to develop a final offshore leasing program for 2017-2022.

The OCS Lands Act requires the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a Five-Year Program that includes a schedule of potential oil and gas lease sales and indicates the size, timing and location of proposed leasing determined to best meet national energy needs, while addressing a range of economic, environmental and social considerations.

The Secretary may approve the final 2017-2022 program after a minimum of 60 days; the plan would then become effective on 1 July 2017.

The Proposed Final Program includes 10 sales in the Gulf of Mexico—one of the most productive basins in the world—where resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established. To provide greater flexibility for investment in the Gulf, the program adopts a new approach to lease sales by offering two annual lease sales for the entire Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico acreage not under moratorium. This is a shift from the traditional approach of one sale per year in each of the Western Gulf and the Central Gulf and periodic sales in the Eastern Gulf.

The vast majority of US offshore oil production occurs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Considering the fragile and unique Arctic ecosystem and the recent demonstrated decline in industry interest, the Proposed Final Program does not include any lease sales in the Chukchi or Beaufort Seas. Based on consideration of the best available science and significant public input, the Department’s analysis identified significant risks to sensitive marine resources and communities from potential new leasing in the Arctic. Moreover, due to the high costs associated with exploration and development in the Arctic and the foreseeable low projected oil prices environment, demonstrated industry interest in new leasing currently is low.

The Proposed Final Program includes one sale in the northern portion of the Cook Inlet Planning Area. Cook Inlet is a mature basin with a long history of oil and gas development in state waters, where existing infrastructure could support new activity. The design of this program area balances the protection of endangered species by taking into account the beluga whale and the northern sea otter critical habitat, with the availability for leasing of areas with the greatest industry interest and existence of oil and gas resources.

Areas off the Atlantic coast are not included in this program. After an extensive public input process, the lease sale that was proposed in the Draft Proposed Program in the Mid- and South Atlantic area was removed during the earlier Proposed Program stage of the process due to current market dynamics, strong local opposition and conflicts with competing commercial and military ocean uses.

Areas off the Pacific coast are not included in the 2017-2022 Program, in line with the earlier Draft Proposed Program and the Proposed Program. The decision not to include the Pacific in the 2017-2022 Program is consistent with the long-standing position of the Pacific coast states in opposition to oil and gas development off their coasts.



Why did Obama want to use American taxpayer resources to help the Brazilians explore for oil in the Atlantic Ocean, establish drill rigs in the Atlantic Ocean and be one of Brazil's best customers, but won't let Americans drill in Arctic Ocean?

Brent Jatko

Perhaps he believed that the Arctic has some non-oil and gas resources worth protecting that justify the expense? Wildlife, for instance?

I know I do.


Maybe he has shares in Haliburton or Schlumberger or some other American drilling and service company. Maybe he owns property along one of the coastlines and the presence of drilling rigs would devalue their worth. Maybe he just has a thing for Brazilian women.

Why did Shell spend 8 Billion on one arctic well and then back off? Why do fools fall in love?



Why do you ask such questions when you can search the web then tell us?


We are still dependent on oil and that won't change until we can get the right group in the Government to plan and develop a process to change over to RE. Until then we are still being run by the oil company Republicans and that requires we drill for hydrocarbons.

The Republicans in the White House/Congress/Supreme Court are all in on Fossil fuels so look for the move to clean energy to be suppressed. Its up to the people to work around this Government that suppresses the people's welfare. You can do this through the power of the purse by buying clean energy products and working against those who pollute with fossil fuels. Might I suggest you vote the down ballot Republicans out in the upcoming two year election. American politics only works for the people when the opposition party is strong enough to force due consideration of all issues.

Brent Jatko

We don't need new oil field leases anyway.

The Wolfcamp Shale in West Texas contains an estimated mean of 20 million bbl of recoverable oil and 16 trillion cu. ft. of natural gas, according to the USGS, all recoverable through fracking of horizontal wells.

See link:

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