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Government Denies Requests to Extend Arctic Ocean Leases and Cancels Future Sales

Today, the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that it denied requests made by Shell and Statoil for five-year extensions of Arctic Ocean leases and that it will not hold two scheduled sales in the region. In 2014, Shell and Statoil submitted requests for “suspensions of operations” for their Arctic Ocean leases. If granted, the requests would have extended the expiration of those leases by five years. DOI previously denied a similar request made by ConocoPhillips. Most of the leases held in the Beaufort Sea will expire in 2017, and leases held in the Chukchi Sea will expire in 2020. A map of leases currently held in the U.S. Arctic Ocean is available here.

Chukchi Sea Lease Sale 237 was scheduled to be held in 2016, and Beaufort Sea Lease Sale 242 was scheduled to be held in 2017. Those sales will not be held, and the government is currently considering whether to hold additional sales in the future.