Future of offshore drilling in the US Arctic in the balance

The future of offshore oil and gas drilling in the US Arctic is in the balance as the Obama administration weighs up whether or not to lease fields off the north of Alaska, according to the Houston Chronicle.

In March the Department of Interior announced the end of offshore drilling leases for the Atlantic. Now oil industry leaders are fearful that a similar decision could be made about the Arctic.

Lease sales are scheduled in 2020 and 2022 for sites in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off Alaska but they are under review.

Supporters of drilling cite America’s need for energy security. Opponents say the risk of spills in the harsh Arctic conditions is too great. Plus the country’s commitment to reducing emissions could mitigate against more or continued licensing.

Environmental groups this week are ready to deliver to Washington a 1 million signature petition opposing lease sales in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico.

Several big-time industry players have recently given up leases for offshore Alaskan drilling for business reasons – the harsh conditions in Arctic waters and the low price of oil adding up to too little fruitful reward.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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