District judge puts hold on Chukchi Sea leases
A judge in the U.S. District Court for Alaska has put a hold on activities stemming from the 2008 U.S. Minerals Management Service Chukchi Sea lease sale in which oil companies paid out $2.6 billion in bonus bids. Shell and ConocoPhillips plan to conduct exploratory drilling in leases purchased in the sale.
The court order came as a consequence of a January 2008 appeal against the lease sale by the Native village of Point Hope, the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and 12 environmental organizations. In today’s order Judge Ralph Beistline said that MMS had acted in an arbitrary manner in preparing the environmental impact statement for the lease sale by not considering the potential environmental impact of offshore natural gas development (as distinct from oil development), by not determining whether environmental information missing from the EIS was relevant or essential for consideration, and by failing to present an assessment of the cost or difficulty of obtaining the missing information.
The judge now requires the Department of the Interior to address the issues that the court has highlighted.
Oil spill reported at Swanson River
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation reported this afternoon that a spill of some 630 gallons of crude oil was reported yesterday by Chevron at the Swanson River oil field. DEC said the spill occurred above a buried pipeline corridor containing both active and inactive piping along a roadway near pad 21-27.
The active 6-inch oil line was isolated by valves and the two wells serviced by the line have been shut down.
DEC said the pipeline corridor will be excavated to determine the source of discharge.
See stories in July 25 issue, available to subscribers online at noon, Friday, July 23, at www.PetroleumNews.com