World Bulletin / News Desk
The move is an attempt before he leaves office to strengthen Obama’s environmental legacy by preventing new leases for exploration and development of crude oil in the Arctic.
"Forgoing lease sales in the Arctic is the right path forward," Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior Department, said in a statement.
The decision is part of a plan that involves crude oil and natural gas development in the U.S.'s offshore regions from 2017 to 2022.
Taking also into account an effort to protect “regions with critical ecological resources", the plan does not allow oil exploration and production in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, located north of the state of Alaska.
The plan, however, is expected to take effect July 1, 2017, according to the Interior Department, almost six months after Obama leaves office.
President-elect Donald Trump promised during his presidential campaign he would increase domestic oil and gas production, which may eventually lead to the cancelation of the plan.
Global energy giant Royal Dutch Shell ceased exploration in the Arctic in September 2015 after prospects of hydrocarbon resources were found to be insufficient for further drilling.
Strained by low oil and gas prices, energy companies have tried to cut costs to ensure their economic survival. Given the harsh conditions and high costs in the Arctic region, American companies are expected to focus more on onshore drilling, according to experts.