The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposes to approve an air quality permit for Shell’s planned exploration drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation announced today. The permit has been modified to address issues raised by comments on an initial version of the permit, and also incorporates changes requested by Shell, ADEC said.
Changes to the earlier permit version would result in a reduction in emissions, ADEC said.
“The permit would allow Shell to operate the Frontier Discoverer drillship and support fleet for multiyear exploratory oil and gas drilling within Shell’s current lease blocks on the Chukchi Sea outer continental shelf, 25 miles beyond Alaska’s seaward boundary,” ADEC said.
Shell plans to drill up to three exploration wells in the Chukchi Sea during the 2010 open water season, and the company has applied for a major prevention of significant deterioration air quality permit, rather than a minor permit, for the drilling. The approval of an air quality permit is a critical requirement for Shell’s planned operations.
EPA has scheduled a public hearing in Barrow on Feb. 16, to receive public comments on the new proposed permit, with teleconferencing from the villages of Wainwright, Point Lay, Point Hope and Atqasuk. Public comments by mail, e-mail or audio recording must be submitted by Feb. 17, ADEC said.