Chukchi Sea News

Photo: US Navy

US Navy Submarines Surface in the Arctic Circle

;   The first Arctic under-ice operations by submarines were done in 1947-49. On August 1, 1947, the diesel submarine USS Boarfish (SS-327), with Arctic Submarine Laboratory's founder Dr. Waldo Lyon onboard serving as an Ice Pilot, conducted the first under-ice transit of an ice floe in the Chukchi Sea.   In 1958, the nuclear-powered USS NAUTILUS made the first crossing of the Arctic Ocean beneath the pack ice. The first Arctic surfacing was done by USS Skate (SSN 578) in March 1959. USS Sargo was the first submarine to conduct a winter Bering Strait transit in 1960.    The

© eqroy / Adobe Stock

Alaska Requests Limits on US Offshore Drilling

has asked U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to pare back a Trump administration plan for oil and gas leasing off the state's coast.   While Walker supports offshore oil development, he said the Interior Department should focus on the most prospective areas off Alaska – the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in the Arctic and Cook Inlet in southern Alaska – and drop all others from the leasing plan.   In asking for proposed lease sales to be dropped, Walker, an independent, joins governors of several other coastal states after Zinke's unexpected move to exempt Florida from the department's

Figure 1 : Sample vector average ice drifts for different years for the January to March period. (Image: ASL Environmental Sciences Inc.)

Ice Analysis in the Chukchi Sea

Tom Weingartner of the University of Alaska's College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and ASL are wrapping up the analysis of the 2014-15 ice draft, ice drift and current data from the Chukchi Sea Environmental Studies Program (CSESP) through funding from BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management). The completion of this analysis marks a milestone in a series of collaborations to better understand the Chukchi Sea.   Two of the sites being analyzed have been observed since Shell Exploration and Production first started making measurements in the Chukchi Sea in 2008. Since those first deployments

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama Bans New Drilling off Alaska, Part of Atlantic Shore

that allows presidents to limit areas from mineral leasing and drilling. Environmental groups said that meant Trump's incoming administration would have to go court if it sought to reverse the move.   The ban affects 115 million acres (46.5 million hectares) of federal waters off Alaska in the Chukchi Sea and most of the Beaufort Sea and 3.8 million acres (1.5 million hectares) in the Atlantic from New England to Chesapeake Bay.   Trump, who succeeds Obama on Jan. 20, has said he would expand offshore oil and gas drilling. A recent memo from his energy transition team said his policy could

Average sea surface temperature measured by satellites using thermal emission sensors, which produce global data adjusted after comparison with ship and buoy data, and sea ice concentration derived from NSIDC near-real-time data for August 7, 2016. Also shown are drifting buoy temperatures at the ocean surface (colored circles); gray circles indicate that temperature data from the buoys are not available. (Credit: M. Steele, Polar Science Center/University of Washington)

Arctic Sea Ice Melt Continues

As of August 14, Arctic sea ice extent is tracking third lowest in the satellite record, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The southern route through the Northwest Passage appears to be largely free of ice. Despite a rather diffuse ice cover in the Chukchi Sea, it is unlikely that Arctic sea ice extent this September will fall below the record minimum set in 2012.   Overview of conditions As of August 14, Arctic sea ice extent was 5.61 million square kilometers, the third lowest extent in the satellite record for this date and slightly below the two standard deviation

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Hundreds of Scientists Urge Obama to Halt Arctic Oil Drilling

gas leasing or exploration should be allowed in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the foreseeable future,” the scientists said.    The proposed federal oil and gas leasing program would last from 2017 to 2022 and includes two sales in the Arctic Ocean: the Beaufort Sea in 2020 and the Chukchi Sea in 2022.   The letter urged the administration to consult native Alaskan groups on any further Arctic developments.   The scientists said in the letter that expanding Arctic marine protection would help counter the effects of climate change.   “The Arctic is home to

High Correlation of Biomass to Species Diversity in Northern Chukchi Sea - BOEM Study

Last summer, researchers began a five year study to monitor biodiversity in the Arctic Chukchi Sea from an ecosystem perspective, looking at microbes, whales and everything in between. Marine biodiversity is a key indicator of ocean health and critical ecosystem services that contribute to human life. Monitoring it improves our ability to interpret and forecast changes. The unprecedented effects of climate change combined with strong seasonal cycles and increasing human activities in the Arctic make this region particularly important to monitor. In August 2015, the AMBON team of researchers from

Abandonment of the whalers in the Arctic Ocean, September 1871, including the George, Gayhead, and Concordia. This illustation originally ran in Harper’s Weekly in 1871. (Credit: Robert Schwemmer Maritime Library)

Remains of Lost 1800s Whaling Fleet Found

of climate change, archaeologists now have more access to potential shipwreck sites than ever before. In September, a team of archaeologists from the Maritime Heritage Program in NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries scoured a 30-mile stretch of coastline in the nearshore waters of the Chukchi Sea, near Wainwright, Alaska. Previous searches for the ships had found traces of gear salvaged from the wrecks by the local Inupiat people, as well as scattered timbers stranded high on the isolated beaches that stretch from Wainwright to Point Franklin.   Using state-of-the-art sonar and

(U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Air Station Port Angeles)

Shell Terminates Polar Pioneer Contract

Royal Dutch Shell has elected to terminate the contract for harsh environment semisubmersible rig Polar Pioneer prior to its expiration in July 2017, the rig's owner Transocean Ltd. announced. Transocean said it will be compensated for the early termination through a lump-sum payment that includes adjustments for reduced operating costs and demobilization to Norway.   Shell initially intended to use the rig for its Arctic operations in the Chukchi Sea, but called off the campaign in September.

Update: Statoil Follows Shell out of Alaska

Norwegian oil major Statoil said on Tuesday it will pull out of Alaska's Chukchi Sea, just weeks after Royal Dutch Shell abandoned the treacherous waters there after spending billions on oil exploration work.   The latest pullback comes as oil companies slash spending on expensive offshore projects during the worst price crash in six years. Businesses, politicians and environmental groups have squared off over drilling in the Arctic, which is widely believed to have large undiscovered oil resources.   Statoil said it will exit 16 leases it operates and its stake in 50 leases operated by

Photo: Statoil

Norway's Statoil to Exit Alaska

Norwegian oil major Statoil said on Tuesday it will pull out of Alaska as its exploration leases in the Chukchi Sea no longer looked competitive.   "Since 2008 we have worked to progress our options in Alaska. Solid work has been carried out, but given the current outlook we could not support continued efforts to mature these opportunities," Statoil exploration chief Tim Dodson said in a statement.   The firm will exit 16 Statoil-operated leases, and its stake in 50 leases operated by ConocoPhillips.     (Reporting by Stine Jacobsen)

Image: An oil drilling rig operated by Royal Dutch Shell ran aground on a pristine wildlife-rich island in Alaska in 2013. Credit: Panda.Org

Arctic Oil Drilling: Why Does U.S. End It?

is cancelling federal petroleum lease sales in US Arctic waters that were scheduled for 2016 and 2017," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. This happened three weeks after Royal Dutch Shell announced it was walking away from exploratory drilling in US Arctic waters.   Jewell said the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast and the Beaufort Sea off the state's north coast will not be included in the agency's next five-year lease sale plan. Current leases held by Shell and other companies in Arctic waters will not be extended, she added.   The Interior Department’s decision

Polar Pioneer rig operating into the floor of the Chukchi Sea

NOIA Commends Shell’s Efforts Offshore Alaska

  National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Randall Luthi today issued the following statement regarding Shell’s decision to halt exploration activities offshore Alaska:   “NOIA commends Shell’s efforts in the Chukchi Sea and recognizes the great expense of this endeavor.  Their ability to drill without incident this season demonstrates that the Arctic can be safely explored.  Shell’s multi-year campaign shows their commitment to providing domestic oil and natural gas to the U.S. and willingness to invest in U.S. jobs. “It is

Fennica, an icebreaker vessel deployed by Shell in the Arctic (Photo: Arctia Shipping)

Shell Withdraws from Arctic Exploration

to find enough crude in a move that will appease environmental campaigners and shareholders who said its project was too expensive and risky. Shell has spent about $7 billion on exploration in the waters off Alaska so far and said it could take a hit of up to $4.1 billion for pulling out of the Chukchi Sea for the "foreseeable future". The unsuccessful campaign is Shell's second major setback in the Arctic after it interrupted exploration for three years in 2012 when an enormous drilling rig broke free and grounded. Environmental campaigners and shareholders have also pressured Shell

Fennica (Photo: Arctia Shipping)

US Gives Shell Final Nod to Drill for Oil in Arctic

The Obama administration on Monday granted Royal Dutch Shell the final permit to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic for the first time since 2012, a move environmentalists vowed to fight.   The Interior Department gave Shell the final permit to drill into the oil zone in the Chukchi Sea off northern Alaska after the Fennica, an icebreaker the company leases that carries emergency well-plugging equipment, was repaired after suffering a gash in its hull.   The permit was expected as the department had previously approved Shell's exploration program before the Fennica hit uncharted shoals

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) personnel conducted inspections of Shell Oil Co. marine vessels Noble Discoverer and the semi-submersible drilling unit Transocean Polar Pioneer in Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Shell Gets APD for limited Arctic Drilling

review and under a robust array of safety requirements, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Brian Salerno today announced that Shell has received conditional approval of two Applications for Permits to Drill (APD) to conduct limited exploratory drilling activities in the Chukchi Sea offshore Alaska. Specifically, the APDs limit Shell to drilling only the top sections of wells and prohibit Shell from drilling into oil-bearing zones. Shell currently is not permitted to drill into oil-bearing zones because, to do so, BSEE requires that a capping stack be on hand and deployable

Fennica (Photo: Arctia Shipping)

US: Shell is Not Yet Allowed to Drill in Arctic Oil Zone

to explore for crude in the Arctic this summer, but said the company cannot drill into the oil zone until required emergency equipment arrives in the region.   The department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) conditionally granted Shell permits for exploration in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, in a season which sea ice limits from July until October.   But Shell must have emergency equipment to contain a potential blown-out well deployable within 24 hours before drilling into the oil zone, the office said. Shell discovered weeks ago that the Fennica icebreaker that

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