The Minerals Management Service has conditionally approved Shell Offshore Inc.’s exploration plan to drill exploration wells on two leases in the Beaufort Sea next summer.
MMS said today that drilling operations would be conducted using the M/V Frontier Discoverer, “a modern drillship retrofitted and ice reinforced” for Arctic outer continental shelf operations.
The plan includes a mid-drilling season break in activities and removal of the drillship from the area to accommodate subsistence bowhead whaling by Kaktovik and Nuiqsut.
Operations would be suspended Aug. 25 and resumed after the subsistence hunts end. Drilling would then extend through Oct. 31, 2010, “depending on ice and weather.”
MMS said the plan includes the use of one drillship and one tending ice management vessel. The two leases are 16 and 23 miles north of Point Thomson.
Additional approvals and permits from MMS and other state and federal agencies are required before the plan can proceed.
See story in Oct. 25 issue, available online at noon, Friday Oct. 23, at www.PetroleumNews.com.