Offshore Oil & Gas in the Arctic: The Next Five Years

January 26, 2012 11:27 am — 11:27 am
Washington, DC

U.S. demand for energy resources continues to increase, along with growing concern about the short- and long-term impacts of domestic oil and gas development and consumption. In few areas is this tension so clearly exemplified as in the U.S. Arctic. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently published a mean estimate that the Alaskan outer continental shelf contains 26.6 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and 131.45 trillion cubic feet of such gas. Yet significant concerns remain about how drilling will impact surrounding marine environment and subsistence harvest by Alaska Native communities, including the ramifications of an oil spill in this extreme environment that lacks infrastructure to allow for immediate response and clean up.

These issues are central to the discussion of U.S. plans to enable further exploitation of offshore oil and gas. On Nov. 10, 2011, BOEM disseminated a draft five-year leasing program for oil and gas on the outer continental shelf. As required by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the plan must balance potential oil and gas discovery with potential impacts to the environment and coastal zone. The draft 2012-2017 leasing program (open for public comment through Feb. 8, 2012) includes multiple sites in the U.S. Arctic that will be made available for leasing.

In this seminar, panelists discussed the draft leasing program and aspects such as science needs and availability, expected activity impacts, and how the program may align with other ongoing ocean management processes, such as coastal and marine spatial planning


  • Andrew Hartsig, Director, Arctic Program, Ocean Conservancy
  • Jessica S. Lefevre, Counsel, Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission
  • Shoshana Lew, Senior Advisor, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Department of the Interior
  • Nate Teti, Deputy Head of U.S. Government Affairs, Statoil
  • (Moderator) John Pendergrass, Senior Attorney, Environmental Law Institute



  • Seminar summary (PDF)
  • Speaker bios (PDF)
  • Presentation - Jessica Lefevre, AEWC (PDF)
  • Presentation - Shoshana Lew, BOEM (PDF)




The 2012 Ocean Seminar Series is generously supported by the
Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation.

Click here for more information on ELI's Ocean Seminar Series