Chukchi Sea Lease Sale Draws Record Bids

Chukchi Sea and Hope Basin Sale 193
(Click to Enlarge)

The U.S. Department of the Interior Minerals Management Service (MMS) held the Federal Chukchi Sea Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Sale 193 on the morning of February 6, 2008, in Anchorage, Alaska.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, the MMS received 667 bids for the Chukchi Sea OCS Sale, a record for the area. With big producers such as Shell, Conoco Phillips and Repsol E&P, the bidding attracted from $200 million to $300 million in the first hour.

The sales consisted of 5,355 blocks covering 29.4 million acres offshore Alaska between Point Barrow and Cape Lisburne. Situated 25 to 50 miles offshore, the sale area ranges in water depth from 95 to 9,800 feet.

Despite the government's attempt to ensure a minimal impact on the environment by enacting protective measures, the lease sale attracted the attention of lawmakers in Washington D.C. Senator John Kerry introduced legislation in January 2008 attempting to halt the lease sale until the Interior Department deemed the polar bear an endangered species or not.

Experts estimate the area to hold 15 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This is the first lease sale in the Chukchi Sea in 17 years.

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