President Barack Obama. Image courtesy of White House/Flickr.

The Obama administration is reportedly trying to block the future sale of drilling rights in U.S. Arctic waters.

Sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that the U.S. Department of Interior is planning to block the sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Arctic as part of a five-year plan.

The sources did not disclose if Alaska’s Cook Inlet would be included in the measure.

The decision would be subject to a 60-day congressional review.

The decision could be rewritten by President-elect Donald Trump, but that process could take months or even years, Bloomberg said.

The U.S. Department of the Interior cancelled two potential Arctic offshore lease sales in October 2015 that were scheduled under the current five-year offshore leasing program that runs from 2012 to 2017.

The cancelled lease sales included drilling rights in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement also denied requests for lease suspensions made by Royal Dutch Shell and Norway’s Statoil that would have extended the expiration date of their leases.

The lease sale cancellation followed Royal Dutch Shell’s announcement in September 2015 that it would cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the “foreseeable future.”

Shell’s decision followed the completion of its Burger J well in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea during the summer of 2015.

While the well found indications of oil and gas, those indications were not sufficient to warrant further exploration in the Burger prospect.

Shell officially relinquished the majority of its leases in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea in May 2016.

Spain’s Repsol became the last major firm to leave the Chukchi Sea after relinquishing its leases in the play in June.


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