BP has asked the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, for approval to conduct a geotechnical and sea-bottom investigation in the Beaufort Sea in connection with a plan to develop the offshore Liberty oil field from an artificial island. The company says that it has also applied to state authorities and other government agencies for authorizations for the work, which would include reconnaissance and geotechnical investigations onshore for potential pipeline routing.
“The purpose of the investigation is to provide soils information for possible material sites, future pad locations, for evaluating proposed pipeline routing, and to provide a visual inspection of the sea-bottom environment,” a BP official told BOEM in a letter dated Dec. 18.
After discovering the 150 million barrel Liberty field in 1997, BP considered developing the field from an artificial island in the Beaufort Sea. But the company subsequently decided on an alternative development approach: the drilling of ultra-extended reach wells from an enlarged island at the Endicott field adjacent the Beaufort Sea coast. And the company proceeded to have the island enlargements made and a specially commissioned, massive drilling rig installed on the island, in readiness for what would have been record-breaking extended reach drilling operations.
But following technical problems with the rig and faced with regulatory complications following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, in June 2012 BP announced that it was abandoning the extended reach drilling project. The drilling rig remains unused at Endicott.
BP subsequently decided to return to the original artificial island concept for the Liberty development, with that decision becoming public in the fall of 2013.
See story in Jan. 19 issue, available online at 11 a.m., Friday, Jan. 17, at www.PetroleumNews.com