Interior Department curbing future Arctic offshore drilling

ANCHORAGE — The Interior Department says it will not extend Arctic offshore leases held by Royal Dutch Shell and other companies in Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she’s also cancelling new lease sales tentatively scheduled for the next two years.

The decision significantly reduces the chances for future Arctic offshore drilling.

Shell announced Sept. 28 it would cease exploration in the Chukchi (chuk-CHEE’) and Beaufort seas after spending upward of $7 billion on Arctic exploration.

The company cited disappointing results from a well drilled in the Chukchi and the unpredictable federal regulatory environment.

Federal leases in the Beaufort Sea are due to expire in 2017 and in the Chukchi in 2020.

Jewell says that in light of Shell’s announcement, it doesn’t make sense to prepare for lease sales in the Arctic in the next year and a half.

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