The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced the next steps for oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). These steps include a proposed sale for the Gulf of Mexico region and completion of an environmental review for Cook Inlet, offshore Alaska.
BOEM has today announced in the Federal Register the availability of the proposed notice of sale (NOS) for the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) oil and gas lease sale 259. The proposed NOS describes the proposed size, timing and location of the sale, including lease stipulations, terms and conditions, minimum bids, royalty rates and rental rates.
Governors of affected states and the executive of any affected local government now have a 60-day opportunity to review and comment on the proposed NOS. BOEM will publish the final NOS in the Federal Register at least 30 days prior to the date of bid opening, which is currently scheduled for March 29, 2023.
A final environmental impact statement (EIS) analysing the potential impacts of Cook Inlet OCS oil & gas lease sale 258 has been published on BOEM’s website. A notice of availability of the final EIS will be published in the Federal Register in the coming days.
Congress has directed BOEM to hold the lease sale by the end of the year.
The final EIS analyses the important environmental resources and uses – including 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 identifies robust mitigation measures to be considered in leasing the area.
After analysing a range of alternatives, the EIS identifies the preferred alternative, which would offer for lease 193 unleased OCS blocks (approximately 387,771 hectares or 958,202 acres). It defers the 17 OCS blocks wholly or partially overlapping beluga whale and northern sea otter critical habitats, and applies additional mitigation measures to reduce potential impacts to the beluga whales and their critical habitat and feeding areas, sea otters and their critical habitat, and the gillnet fishery.