The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has deemed Shell's Chukchi Sea exploration plan complete and is inviting public comments on the document. The company wants to resume its Chukchi Sea exploration drilling program during this summer's Arctic open water season and has begun mobilizing its drilling fleet. However, the company will need a government approved plan before it can start drilling - a public comment period is part of the regulatory procedure that can lead to plan approval.
The review of Shell's plan had been delayed as a result of an appeal against the lease sale in which Shell purchased its Chukchi Sea leases. BOEM had to rework the environmental impact statement for the sale and issue a new record of decision before reviewing any lease-related documentation from Shell.
"We will be carefully scrutinizing this revised EP to determine whether it meets stringent environmental and regulatory standards," said Dr. James Kendall, the director of BOEM's Alaska OCS Region. "We have posted Shell's revised EP online, and we invite the public and all interested stakeholders to review the document and provide us with comments."
Shell's Chukchi Sea program envisages drilling up to six wells in the Burger prospect, located about 70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright. Burger has a large geologic structure known to hold a major natural gas pool and Shell hopes to find that there is also oil in the structure. The company plans to use two drilling vessels, the drill ship Noble Discoverer and the semi-submersible drilling unit Transocean Polar Pioneer.
- ALAN BAILEY
See story in April 19 issue, available online Friday, April 17 at www.PetroleumNews.com