The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is preparing the call for information for an oil and gas lease sale scheduled to be held in the Beaufort Sea in 2017. The government is moving forward despite the inability to respond to or clean up an oil spill in unfavorable Arctic conditions and the fact that oil companies are allowing existing Arctic Ocean leases to expire, and have not completed any successful exploration wells on the leases they already control. Leasing in the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas and attempted offshore exploration has resulted in controversy, litigation, and the very real risk of significant environmental harm. The U.S. Arctic Ocean is home to iconic wildlife—such as whales, polar bears, ice seals, and walrus—who depend on a healthy ocean ecosystem.
In response to the call for information, Susan Murray, Oceana’s Deputy Vice President, Pacific, issued the following statement:
“Additional leasing in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea is premature and unnecessary. There is no proven technology that would allow companies to drill safely in Arctic Ocean conditions. The risks of additional leasing in the Beaufort far outweigh any potential benefits, and oil companies have shown that they are not ready to explore on leases they already control. Nearly half of the leases purchased in the 2003-07 lease sales have been allowed to expire as company after company decides to forego or delay activities in the U.S. Arctic Ocean.
Even if oil and gas could be produced from the Beaufort Sea, it would not significantly affect the price of gas at the pump, and it would not reduce our dependence on foreign suppliers for decades into the future. Rather than pushing forward to open new areas, BOEM should focus on fixing the problems that have been made apparent by the controversies and near-disasters that have resulted from its previous decisions. Leasing, exploration, and development should occur only if companies prove they can operate safely and without harming our ocean resources.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.