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US Cancels Two Arctic Offshore Lease Sales - Interior Department

© Sputnik / Alexander LiskinAn Arctic dawn
An Arctic dawn - Sputnik International
The US government has suspended the two likely Arctic offshore lease sales under its oil and gas leasing program because of the present market situation and weak interest, the US Department of the Interior announced in a release.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The decision to cancel the sales follows oil giant Shell’s announcement it would end its oil and gas exploration off Alaska because of poor results and high costs.

"In light of current market conditions and low industry interest, the US Department of the Interior today announced that it will cancel the two potential Arctic offshore lease sales scheduled under the current five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program for 2012-2017," the release stated on Friday.

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On August 17, Shell was granted permission by the US government to begin exploratory drilling near Alaska, at one of the company’s wells at the Burger Prospect, located in the Chukchi Sea.

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The government approved in May a drilling lease for Shell to conduct exploration operations in the Chukchi Sea.

Numerous watchdog and environmental organization criticized the US government decision to approve drilling in the Arctic amid concerns that it poses significant threat to the environment.

The United States has experienced a number of maritime oil and gas disasters, including the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the 1989 Exxon Valdez crash in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, both of which left behind long-term environmental destruction and economic hardship.

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