North Aleutians Basin
The North Aleutians Basin is a geographic phenomenon, primarily a submarine depression, occurring in the southern Bristol Bay region of the Bering Sea and just off the northern shore of the Alaska Peninsula. It extends some 600 miles (960 km) along the Alaska Peninsula (northeast-southwest) and nearly as far north-south into the center of the Bering Sea. Primarily composed of gravel and sand, the near-shore zone is famously muddy towards its eastern flank.
Long known for its potential riches[by whom?], the area was heavily prospected by oil and gas prospectors, mostly notable Shell, from the early 1960s through the present. Since the area is important for the highly prized sockeye salmon fishery, particularly in communities like Dillingham, Naknek, and King Salmon, the entire area was until recently subject to a federal offshore drilling moratorium.
As recently as October 2005, both the state of Alaska and the U.S. Minerals Management Service had plans to develop the oil, and especially natural gas, potential of the area. One proposal would have offshore platforms extracting natural gas north of the village of Nelson Lagoon and transporting the gas via pipeline to a processing facility to the Pacific Ocean side near Sand Point.