The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, or BSEE, has approved Shell’s oil spill response plan for the company’s planned drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Shell wants to drill up to six wells in the company’s Chukchi Sea Burger prospect starting in this year’s summer open water season. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has already approved Shell’s exploration plan for its Chukchi Sea drilling, but exploration plan approval was contingent on BSEE approval of Shell’s spill response plan and on the company obtaining a BSEE drilling permit for each well.
“After an exhaustive review, we have confidence that Shell’s plan includes the necessary equipment and personnel pre-staging, training, logistics and communications to act quickly and mount an effective response should a spill occur,” said BSEE Director James Watson today when announcing plan approval. “Our staff will maintain vigilant oversight over Shell to ensure that they adhere to this plan, and that all future drilling operations are conducted safely with a focus toward spill prevention.”
If BSEE approves Shell’s drilling permits the agency will inspect the equipment that the company deploys for the drilling operations, including a well capping stack that the company plans to have available in the event of a blowout preventer failure, BSEE says.
BSEE says that it had required Shell to substantially rewrite previously approved Arctic spill response plans to clarify how the company would mobilize and sustain a massive response over an extended period of time. The plan approval follows months of comprehensive internal, interagency and public review, including the involvement of the new federal interagency group established to coordinate the permitting of energy development in Alaska, BSEE says.
See story in Feb. 26 issue, available online at 11 a.m., Friday, Feb. 24 at www.PetroleumNews.com