The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today announced it plans to offer approximately 1.09 million acres in Cook Inlet off Alaska’s south central coast in a proposed lease sale this year.
Cook Inlet Oil & Gas Lease Sale 244, scheduled to take place in June 2017, would offer 224 blocks toward the northern part of the Cook Inlet Planning Area for leasing. The blocks stretch roughly from Kalgin Island in the north to Augustine Island in the south.
“Following a robust environmental analysis, we are moving forward with the Lease Sale 244 process,” said Walter Cruickshank, BOEM’s acting director. “We look forward to hearing Governor Walker’s comments and recommendations as we continue to balance environmental considerations with careful development.”
The Proposed Notice of Sale is available now at www.boem.gov/ak244. A Notice of Availability will be published Monday, Feb. 27 in the Federal Register Reading Room, and on Tuesday, Feb. 28 in the Federal Register itself.
BOEM has notified Alaska Governor Bill Walker of this announcement, and as required by law will mail him a copy of the Proposed Notice of Sale to arrive coincident with the Feb. 28 Federal Register Notice of Availability. This will initiate a governor’s 60-day review and comment period.
This sale would be the final one in the Department of the Interior’s 2012-2017 OCS Oil & Gas Leasing Program, which proposes one lease sale (OCS Oil & Gas Lease Sale 244) in Cook Inlet in June 2017. Publication of this notice does not mean the final decision has been made to hold the lease sale.
The next step in the leasing process is the publication of the Final Notice of Sale. Per BOEM’s regulations, this must be done at least 30 days prior to the date of the sale.
The Proposed Notice of Sale follows the Dec. 22, 2016, publication of an Environmental Impact Statement relating to the proposed sale. The EIS analyzed the important environmental resources and uses (e.g., sea otter and beluga whale populations; subsistence activities; commercial fishing of pacific salmon and halibut; and more) that currently exist within the Cook Inlet Planning Area and identified robust mitigation measures to be considered in leasing the area. Mitigation measures identified in the proposed notice would protect sea otter, beluga whale and commercial fisheries.