June 13, 2002 --- Vol. 8, No. 63June 2002

Forest can go back to drilling at Redoubt

Work at Forest Oil Corp.'s Osprey platform at Redoubt Shoal in Cook Inlet has been off again and on again since April because of court actions by Trustees for Alaska on behalf of Cook Inlet Keeper.

The Nabors Drilling crew was sent home yesterday for the second time, Forest Oil's Gary Carlson told PNA this afternoon. But at a hearing in Superior Court this morning, Carlson told PNA, the judge said the state had met Supreme Court requirements for a new consistency determination for the exploration phase of the project.

Carlson said the judge told Forest that there is no longer an injunction: the company has its permits and can go back to drilling.

So Forest has Nabors Drilling recalling the crews sent home yesterday, and plans to begin drilling again as soon as possible, he said.

Trustees, which brought suit on behalf of Cook Inlet Keeper against the use of a general permit allowing dumping of cuttings into the inlet during the exploration phase at Redoubt, disagreed with the Superior Court. The Supreme Court had ordered a new consistency determination for the exploration phase and Trustees argued that the state didn't do a good job in the new determination.

The ironic thing, said Carlson, is that the 1999 lawsuit was against dumping of water-based cuttings into the inlet, which a general permit from the Environmental Protection Agency allows for the entire Cook Inlet. But Forest, he said, went to grind and inject during the drilling of the fifth well.

Carlson said Trustees wants the court to again order work stopped. Trustees' arguments on that issue are due tomorrow; Forest's response is due Monday, he said.

The first time Forest sent Nabors' crews home, Carlson said, was at the end of April. Forest was trying to get relief from the April 19 injunction which halted drilling of the fifth exploration well at the Redoubt Shoals field in Cook Inlet.

Carlson said Forest had Nabors call its crews back to work doing additional work on existing wells, but not drilling the fifth well. Forest ran out of that kind of work yesterday, he said, so sent the crew home again.

The Superior Court hearing which allows drilling to resume was not scheduled until this morning, Carlson said. He also said Forest appreciates the court's effort to handle the matter expeditiously.

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