August 07, 2002 --- Vol. 8, No. 81August 2002

Public comment under way for Unocal's Swanson River satellite project

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking for public comment on a draft environmental impact statement for Unocal's satellite expansion of Swanson River gas production.

Although the draft EIS includes a "no action alternative" as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, Fish and Wildlife, the lead permitting agency for the project, said it does not have the authority to implement a no action alternative for the project because it is constrained by the Alaska Native Settlement Claims Act: the natural gas resources proposed for development are either privately owned or have been previously leased and thus constitute valid inholdings within the refuge.

The majority of resources in the project area are owned by CIRI through ANSCA entitlements.

"Federal regulations require that the owners of valid inholdings be provided adequate and feasible access for economic and other purposes, subject to reasonable regulation to protect refuge resources," the agency said.

A no action alternative would mean that Fish and Wildlife would not grant a right of way and the Corps of Engineers would not grant a permit for placement of fill in U.S. waters under the Clean Water Act and the resources would not be developed.

Fish and Wildlife said that while it does not have the authority to implement the no action alternative, other agencies are not constrained by ANILCA. The Corps and the Bureau of Land Management, which issues drilling permits for the refuge, are cooperating agencies.

The proposal is for development of two satellites, the East Swanson River satellite some five miles east of the existing Swanson River field and the North Swanson River satellite some three miles north of the existing field.

Fish and Wildlife said that Unocal and partners Marathon Oil Co. and CIRI applied for a right of way for the proposed project in January 2001.

Comments are due Oct. 1. A public hearing will be held Sept. 5, 7-9 p.m., at the Aspen Hotel in Soldotna.

Redoubt No. 5 in Hemlock

As part of its second quarter operational results, Forest Oil Corp. said today that the Redoubt No. 5 is currently directionally drilling in the Hemlock objective at 14,450 feet measured depth.

Forest said this well will be the first test on the western flank of the Redoubt field in Cook Inlet.

Regulatory permitting difficulties delayed the drilling of the No. 5 by approximately one month, the company said. Delineation of the field to the west and south will occur with the drilling of the No. 5 and No. 6 wells.

Forest said the Redoubt No. 4 was a 20,203-foot directional well designed to test the down-dip limits on the eastern flank of the Redoubt structure. The lower Hemlock tested low volumes of oil and water, the company said. Three shallow gas sands were tested, with two testing wet and one testing 1.2 million cubic feet a day.

Forest said onshore facility construction and pipeline installations continue and we estimate start-up by year end.

Forest has a 100 percent working interest at Redoubt.

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