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BOEM Extends Public Comment for Drilling in Chukchi Sea

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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has extended the deadline for the public comment period on the recently released "Call for Information and Nominations on Proposed Chukchi Sea Oil and Gas Sale 237" until Dec. 3.

The comment period, which opened Sept. 26, was scheduled to last until Nov. 18 but due to the federal government shutdown that lasted for two weeks in October, BOEM decided to extend the comment period.

"This is to ensure partner agencies, industry and the public have adequate time to review the issues and comment," the agency said in a press release. "This call does not indicate a final decision about any areas in the Chukchi Sea that may be offered for oil and gas leasing in the future."

BOEM is calling for information about offshore oil and gas leasing in the Chukchi Sea Program Area, located in the Arctic off Alaska's northwest coast. An area that appears promising for oil and gas exploration and development.

"The United States has an opportunity that few nations ever get," Carlton Carroll, API spokesman, said to Rigzone. "We have a chance to be a dominant player in the global energy markets and guarantee our energy security for decades ahead. Achieving this feat must include tapping into oil and natural gas resources off our coasts in the Atlantic, Pacific, the Arctic and eastern Gulf of Mexico."

"The Chukchi Sea has substantial oil and gas potential … any future leasing in the Chukchi Sea must be focused on areas that can be developed safely and responsible while also protecting sensitive habitats and places that are important to Alaska Native hunters and fishermen, " said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau, in the Sept. 26 release.

Royal Dutch Shell plc has struggled for a couple of years in its quest to begin exploratory drilling in this region of the world. The company spud the Sivulliq prospect in October 2012 but stopped drilling in November after facing equipment issues. Last month, the company said it plans to continue its drilling program in the Chukchi Sea but has not made a final decision. The company expects to submit an updated exploration plan in the coming weeks.

"Our decision to resume exploration will be driven by our readiness to do so safely, not by the need to meet arbitrary timelines. Alaska oil and gas represents a potentially enormous and vital U.S. resource that could underpin the American economy for decades to come," the company said on its website.

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