Oil & Gas Development
In October 2005, Shell Offshore Inc. bid on 33 blocks in the Alaska Peninsula Oil and Gas Lease Sale. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources accepted Shell as the highest bidder, at nearly $1 million. The blocks are cradled within the North Aleutian Basin, a large area encompassing Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea side of the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutians East Borough. The vicinity around Nelson Lagoon and Port Moller has been identified as having the greatest offshore potential.
However, the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill spurred an ongoing presidential moratorium on Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) exploration, which is critical to developing the region's offshore oil and gas reserves. The Obama Adminstration implemented a moratorium on North Aleuan Basin exploration in 2009, effectively putting the area off-limits for the foreseeable future. In addition, no activity can take place without the required permits in place. Over the years, several Southwest Alaskans have travelled to Norway and other regions where a thriving oil and gas industry coexists with healthy fisheries, proving that it can be done in an environmentally responsible way.
There are other significant onshore and offshore oil and gas considerations being explored in the SWAMC region, but only time will tell if they bear fruit. As it stands, the closest ties the Southwest region will have to the petroleum industry is through support services.