The Trump administration has approved an oil company’s request to explore for oil in the Arctic Ocean.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) on Tuesday granted a permit for Italian oil giant Eni SpA to drill an exploratory well in the Beaufort Sea as a way to test production conditions there.
The permit means the company could begin work on its exploratory well as early as next month.
The decision is the first time the federal government has allowed a company to explore for oil in the American portion of Arctic waters in two years.
Obama administration regulators put tight conditions on drilling activities in the Arctic and eventually decided to prohibit the sale of new drilling leases there.
Eni already owns leases for the area it hopes to explore. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has looked to encourage drilling activities both on and offshore. The Interior Department approved Eni’s drilling plan in July, and officials are considering a rewrite of Obama’s offshore drilling plan, potentially opening up more areas of the Arctic for development in the future.
“Responsible resource development in the Arctic is a critical component to achieving American energy dominance,” BSEE Director Scott Angelle said in a statement.
“BSEE is committed to working with our Alaskan Native and industry partners by taking a thoughtful and balanced approach to oil and gas exploration, development and production in the Arctic,” he said.