September 02, 2010 --- Vol. 16, No. 81September 2010

District court upholds moratorium ruling

Louisiana District Court Judge Martin Feldman has rejected a request by the U.S. Department of the Interior to dismiss as moot an appeal and associated injunction against Interior’s moratorium on deepwater drilling on the outer continental shelf.

In June Feldman had imposed the injunction against the moratorium, originally imposed by Interior in May and subsequently appealed by a number of oil service companies. Interior appealed the injunction to the Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, but on July 12 the agency issued a new drilling moratorium, with different stipulations. Interior simultaneously claimed that the appeal and injunction were moot, since in issuing the new moratorium the agency had withdrawn the original moratorium that had been appealed.

And the 5th Circuit Court referred the case back to the district court, to establish a record for adjudicating on Interior’s claim.

In a Sept. 1 court order Feldman said that Interior cannot sidestep the injunction by issuing a new moratorium that “arguably fashions no substantial changes from the first moratorium.”

“This court has determined that no rational nexus exists between the fact of the tragic Deepwater Horizon blowout and placing an attainder of universal culpability on every other deepwater rig operator in the Gulf of Mexico” and “has determined that the first moratorium is invalid in law,” Feldman said.

August ANS production up marginally

Alaska North Slope production averaged 540,947 barrels per day of crude oil in August, up marginally (0.1 percent) from a July average of 540,368 bpd.

The BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.-operated Lisburne field had the largest percentage increase from July to August, up 191.6 percent. Lisburne production averaged 18,699 bpd in August, up from a daily average of 6,412 bpd in July, but Lisburne was only in production July 18-31, whereas the field was in production every day in August.

The only other field with increased month-over-month production was BP’s Milne Point field, which averaged 27,931 bpd in August, up 6 percent from a July average of 26,340 bpd.

The largest month-over-month production decline, 55 percent, was at the BP-operated Northstar field, which averaged 6,137 bpd in August compared to 13,635 bpd in August. As with Lisburne, the difference is based on days of production. Northstar produced only from the Aug. 21 through 31, compared to the previous month when the field was in production from July 1 through July 25.

The BP-operated Endicott field averaged 12,314 bpd in August, down 8.1 percent from a July average of 13,399 bpd.

The ConocoPhillips Alaska-operated Kuparuk River field averaged 133,527 bpd in August, down 2.7 percent from a July average of 137,221 bpd.

Production at the ConocoPhillips-operated Alpine field averaged 89,810 bpd in August, down 0.8 percent from a July average of 90,522.

Production from the BP-operated Prudhoe Bay field averaged 252,529 bpd in August, down 0.1 percent from a July average of 252,809.

Cook Inlet production averaged 9,305 bpd in August, down 7.34 percent from a July average of 10,042 bpd.

See story in Sept. 5 issue of Petroleum News, available to subscribers online at noon, Friday, Sept. 3 at

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