June 12, 1998 --- Vol. 4, No. 32June 1998

North Slope Borough denies Beaufort Sea seismic permit

Responding to concerns from the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission about the effects of two open water seismic surveys at the same time, the North Slope Borough has denied an application from Western Geophysical Co. for an open water 3-D seismic permit in the Beaufort Sea.

Both Western and BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. applied for permits to acquire seismic in the Beaufort Sea. BP applied first.

The whalers are concerned about two seismic surveys occurring simultaneously. In a June 2 letter, the AEWC said it was objecting to the issuance of two permits “at the request of its subsistence whalers...”

In a June 8 letter denying the permit, the North Slope Borough told Western Geophysical that during discussions with the AEWC and whaling captains from Barrow, Kaktovik and Nuiqsut, “new scientific information was presented that showed the effects of one open water seismic survey displaced Bowhead whales 12 miles from their migration path. No information was introduced to show what the effect of two open water seismic surveys would have on Bowhead whales, but it is logical to assume that this displacement would be greater than one seismic survey.”

GRI doing permitting work for 50 coalbed gas wells

No flow rates have been released from GRI Inc.’s first three coalbed gas wells, but the company has begun permitting an additional 50 wells.

Development at the shallow gas field near Houston in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough some 22 miles north of Anchorage will include wells, pads, compressor stations, flowlines, pipelines and electrical connections.

Dave Lappi, president of GRI Inc., told PNA June 9 that the company is “quietly confident” about results from initial wells and is awaiting results of its applications to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for an area injection order and approval for subsurface transfer of water to proceed with work on those wells.

The first three Houston gas field wells, numbers 1-3, were drilled on the same state oil and gas lease, ADL 381134. The Houston 4, in ADL 374129 to the west, “has proven to be non-commercial,” the company said, but another well, the Houston 4-A, is planned for that lease.

GRI said it planned 12 wells in mid-summer to early fall of 1998, and an additional 20 wells each in the summers of 1999 and 2000.

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