The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final air permit for Shell’s planned use of its Kulluk floating drilling platform for exploration drilling in the Beaufort Sea starting in July 2012. The permit comes about a month after the issue of a similar permit for the use of the drillship Noble Discoverer in both the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.
“EPA’s final permit significantly reduces the potential air pollution from Shell’s drilling operations and protects the National Ambient Air Quality Standards,” the EPA said when announcing its issuance of the permit for the Kulluk. “Strict pollution controls in the permit include selective catalytic reduction units and catalytic oxidation reduction units on some engines, use of low-sulfur diesel fuel fleet-wide, and limits on operational hours.”
Public appeals for review of the permit must be received by the Environmental Appeals Board by Nov. 28, EPA said.
“Shell has been in pursuit of a usable air permit for nearly five years,” said Shell spokesman Curtis Smith in response to the issue of the Kulluk permit. “We appreciate that EPA Region 10 has thoroughly evaluated our program and issued a final permit for the Kulluk that is technically and scientifically sound. Shell has gone to great lengths to meet the goal of having no measurable impact on coastal villages, including a retro-fit of the Discoverer’s catalytic exhaust system and ongoing, multi-million dollar modifications to the Kulluk.”
Shell has said that it needs to make a decision in late October on whether to start activating its drilling operation for the 2012 open water season and that the company’s decision will depend on the status of the permits required for that drilling.
See story in the Oct. 30 edition of Petroleum News, which will be online Friday Oct. 28 at 11 a.m. at www.petroleumnews.com.