Welcome to BOEM’s Virtual Meeting Room! This site has been set up to provide information about the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Cook Inlet OCS Oil & Gas Lease Sale 258. Your participation is an essential part of BOEM’s environmental review process! On this site you will learn how you can participate to help shape the final EIS.
The 2017-2022 National OCS Oil & Gas Leasing Program provides for one lease sale in Cook Inlet, scheduled for 2021.
On Sept. 10, 2020, BOEM published in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS. This initiated a 30-day scoping period that closed on Oct. 13, 2020. Scoping, in essence, is where our scientists and other specialists say to the public: “We are about to begin preparing a draft EIS. As we do so, are there any specific issues you would like us to be aware of, or concerns you would like us to address?”
On Jan. 15, 2021, BOEM published a Notice of Availability for the draft EIS in the Federal Register. This initiated a 45-day public comment period, which will last through March 1, 2021. During this time, we invite the public to review and comment on the draft EIS.
The following documents are available for your viewing.
- Notice of Availability of the Lease Sale 258 draft EIS
- Lease Sale 258 draft EIS
- Scoping Summary Report
- Exploration and Development (E&D) Scenario
- Oil Spill Risk Analysis: Cook Inlet Planning Area OCS Lease Sale 258 (Revised)
- Area Identification Decision
- Area Identification Map
In addition to this virtual meeting room, we will host three virtual meetings where you can provide oral testimony. We look forward to hearing from you.
Your feedback is an essential part of this process. From Jan. 15 to March 1, BOEM will accept comments on the draft EIS in any of the following ways:
Beginning Saturday, Jan. 16, you may submit written comments electronically using regulations.gov, the federal government’s official commenting website. Comments must be submitted by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on March 1, 2021.
- During any of the virtual public meetings, you may provide up to three minutes of oral testimony. (Any speaker who wishes to provide more information than the three minutes available is encouraged to do so as a written comment.)
Comments must be postmarked no later than March 1, 2021.
We want to hear from you. In addition to the virtual meeting room, we will host three virtual meeting sessions where you can provide oral testimony.
Tue, Feb. 9, 2021
Wed, Feb. 10, 2021
Thu, Feb. 11, 2021
Meeting format: Each meeting will begin with a presentation by BOEM, which will be recorded and posted here. After the presentation, you will have the opportunity to provide public testimony. All public testimony received during the meeting will become part of the public record.
Each meeting will begin with a brief overview of the project and where we are in the process, followed by public testimony.
- What is BOEM's mission?
BOEM is the bureau within the Department of the Interior that oversees the environmentally and economically responsible development of our energy and mineral resources on almost 2.5 billion acres of the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS. BOEM is committed to science-informed decision-making, and all our activities are supported by our robust environmental program.
We also consider public input to be a critical component of safe and responsible offshore resource management. We solicit public comments from a host of stakeholders and ocean users in our environmental reviews and regulatory programs, including the fishing community, mariners, coastal communities, and others.
- Has the decision been made to hold the lease sale?
No. The release of a draft EIS is just one step in the pre-lease process. Ultimately, the final decision to hold, modify or cancel the sale will be made by the Secretary of the Interior. The analyses contained in the Cook Inlet Lease Sale 258 Final EIS will help inform that decision.
- What areas of Cook Inlet are under consideration?
The area identified by the bureau consists of 224 blocks in the northern portion of the inlet; and covers approximately 1.09 million acres of seafloor, stretching roughly from Kalgin Island in the north to Augustine Island in the south. A normal lease block is 3x3 miles. A map of the proposed sale area is available at: www.boem.gov/ak258
- Why have meetings during this time?
To the greatest extent possible, we are working to maintain services to the American people and our stakeholders, consistent with evolving guidance provided by the CDC and state and local health authorities. As such, we are moving forward with our public meetings in a virtual environment to provide information to our stakeholders in the safest and most efficient way possible. The public meetings, while virtual, are an opportunity for public involvement and an opportunity to provide comments on the draft EIS.
- What happens next in the NEPA process?
BOEM will take public input received on this draft EIS, combine it with local, traditional knowledge and the best available scientific information, and produce a final EIS. We would expect the final EIS to be published in Summer 2021.
After that, the Department of the Interior will review the final EIS, together with any other information as appropriate, and issue a Record of Decision determining whether to proceed with the sale.
If a decision is made to proceed with the lease sale, BOEM will publish a Proposed Notice of Sale.
The last step would be publication of the Final Notice of Sale, at least 30 days before the actual sale date.
- How much oil and gas does the federal government believe is in Cook Inlet?
BOEM estimates that the federal waters of Cook Inlet contain an economically recoverable 810 million barrels of oil, and .33 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
(Source: BOEM Fact Sheet RED-2017-12, “Assessment of Undiscovered Technically Recoverable Oil and Gas Resources of the Nation’s Outer Continental Shelf, 2016”)
- Are there currently any active leases or rigs in Cook Inlet?
There are 14 active leases in the federal waters of Cook Inlet. Each of these is owned in full by Hilcorp Alaska LLC. They were acquired by Hilcorp via Cook Inlet Oil & Gas Lease Sale 244, held in June 2017.
The Inlet’s state waters contain 16 production platforms, 12 of which are currently active.
- Will this be the first federal lease sale in Cook Inlet?
No. Six federal lease sales have been held in the Cook Inlet Planning Area within the past 45 years.
- In October 1977, Lease Sale CI resulted in 88 leases being issued.
- In September 1981, Lease Sale 60 resulted in 13 leases being issued.
- A reoffering sale, Lease Sale RS-2, was held in August 1982, but no bids were received.
- Lease Sale 149, held in June 1997, resulted in 2 leases being issued.
- Lease Sale 191 was scheduled for May 2004, and bids were solicited. However, none were received.
- Lease Sale 244, held in June 2017, resulted in 14 leases issued.
- Were other sales scheduled?
Yes. In June 2002, the Department of the Interior issued the 2002-2007 National Program, which provided for two sales in the Cook Inlet Planning Area, Sales 191 and 199. Lease Sale 191 was scheduled for May 2004, as noted above, but no bids were received. Lease Sale 199, which was scheduled for 2006, did not garner any industry interest and the sale was cancelled.
Two special interest sales in the Cook Inlet Planning Area, Sales 211 and 219, were scheduled for the 2007-2012 National Program. On July 8, 2008, a Request for Interest was issued for Lease Sale 211. The comment period closed October 6, 2008. The bureau received three comments, but no industry nominations identifying specific leasing interest and the decision was made not to proceed with the Sale 211.
In December 2010, Lease Sale 219 was cancelled due to lack of industry interest.
- Have any wells been drilled in the federal waters of Cook Inlet in the past?
Yes. Between 1978 and 1985, 13 exploration wells were drilled in the federal waters of the Cook Inlet Planning Area. All have been permanently plugged and abandoned. The last well to be plugged and abandoned was located in the Shelikof Straits, in the southern portion of the planning area. It was drilled in December 1984 and plugged in March 1985.
- Why is BOEM proposing a sale when oil prices are so low? Shouldn't you wait until prices are higher and you can get higher bids?
BOEM conducts a rigorous bid adequacy review to ensure a high bid represents fair market value before awarding a lease. If bids received do not represent a fair value for the American public, then those bids are not accepted.
Keep in mind that companies placing bids do so on the basis of their long-term oil forecasts, since leases sold today are not producing oil into today's market; rather, any production from leases issued in this sale would not commence until several years into the future.