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Soundings Archive

MMS Offers Chukchi Lease Sale 193
On January 2, 2008, the U.S. Minerals Management Service published notice that the Service will hold OCS Oil and Gas lease Sale 193 on February 6, 2008. This lease sale is offering blocks of the Outer Continental Shelf in the Chukchi Sea off northwestern Alaska. This is the first U.S. lease sale in the Chukchi since 1991.

The sale has generated surprising press coverage and controversy. Some environmental groups argue that the sale should not be held, fearing that it may affect polar bears. These fears are misplaced. Adverse impact on polar bears is unlikely because the lease sale involves open ocean oil and gas exploration, while polar bears live on sea ice. Bears on the ice are unlikely to be significantly affected by the activities encompassed by the lease sale.

Successful bidders at the Lease Sale will have to comply with Final Lease Stipulations and Final Information to Lessees. These documents contain requirements intended to prevent harm to wildlife or the environment. Successful bidders may also have to attain permits from the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and/or Fish and Wildlife Service. These facts are not discussed in most of the adverse media coverage of the leases.

  • Click here to read MMS' notice of lease sale

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