The Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 has published for public review a draft air quality permit for Shell’s planned exploration drilling program in the Chukchi Sea in 2010. Comments on the permit are due by Oct. 5.
Pete Slaiby, Shell’s Alaska general manager, told Petroleum News Aug. 18 that Shell has opted to apply for “prevention of significant deterioration permits,” a type of air quality permit required for a major emissions source, for its drilling operations in both the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea during the 2010 open water season.
Shell believes that these permits, coupled with modifications to the drillship that the company plans to use, will resolve issues raised during appeals against minor permits issued for drilling that Shell had previously planned for the Beaufort Sea -- drilling that never occurred because of litigation against both the air quality permits and the approval of Shell’s Beaufort Sea exploration plan received from federal agencies.
However, Shell executives are frustrated with the length of time that EPA is taking to process the new permits, especially since the company needs to make a decision at the beginning of 2010 on whether to ramp up its Alaska drilling operation for that year.
EPA District 10 told Petroleum News today that Shell’s Alaska OCS permits are a top priority for the agency.
Editor’s note: Watch for full story in the Aug. 23 edition of Petroleum News, which will be available online tomorrow, Aug. 21, at noon Alaska-time, at www.petroleumnews.com.