Alaska Delegation Want Chukchi, Beaufort seas, Cook Inlet Kept in OCS Program

Opportunities are fast approaching for the fisheries industry to voice opinions about the proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leasing program for 2019–2024.

Open house public meetings on the draft proposed OCS program are scheduled in 23 coastal states through March 8, including Tacoma, Washington’s Catering and Convention Center on February 5; the Red Lion Hotel in Salem, Oregon, on February 6; the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento, California on February 8 and the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage on February 21.

Registration is voluntary, but the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is asking people to do so to help them in planning and managing logistics for each meeting site. Sign up for any of these meetings at

Meanwhile, Alaska’s congressional delegation is urging the Interior Department to keep the Chukchi and Beaufort seas planning areas and Cook Inlet in the Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program for 2019–2024.

The delegation points to the Interior Department’s draft proposed program data, which says the Chukchi and Beaufort seas contain the second and fourth largest estimated undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources of all OCS planning areas. In a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, they said the offshore program focused on the Chukchi, Beaufort and Cook Inlet would reflect areas with the broadest support for development among Alaskans.

The proposed plan includes three sales in the Chukchi Sea, three sales in the Beaufort Sea, two sales in Cook Inlet and one each in 11 other program areas.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management recently boosted its estimate for the Beaufort Sea by 700 million barrels to a total of 8.9 billion barrels. BOEM’s Chukchi Sea estimate is for 15.4 billion barrels of oil. Cook Inlet was described as a mature basin that remains a critical source of natural gas for Southcentral Alaska.

The delegation also urged Zinke to remove from the draft proposed program the Hope Basin, Norton Basin, St. Matthew-Hall, Navarin Basin, Aleutian Basin, Bowers Basin, Aleutian Arc, St. George Basin, Shumagin, Kodiak and the Gulf of Alaska.