US agency affirms revised review of Chukchi Sea petroleum lease, a step toward 2015 drilling

IndustriesAssociated Press

The Department of Interior says it has affirmed a corrected environmental analysis for a 7-year-old petroleum lease in the Chukchi (chuk-CHEE') Sea off Alaska's northwest coast.

The agency's expected decision Tuesday confirms that it corrected flaws surrounding the 2008 lease sale. That opens the door for the department to review a 2015 petroleum exploration plan by Royal Dutch Shell PLC in Chukchi waters.

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The sale was challenged in a lawsuit by conservation and Alaska Native groups.

Federal courts twice ordered the environmental analysis to be revised. The groups said the former Minerals Management Service had based its environmental review on projected extraction of only 1 billion barrels of oil.

The supplemental review assumes an extraction of 4.3 billion barrels and greater potential impacts.