If oil companies want to carry out seismic surveys in the area of the U.S. Minerals Management Service’s proposed north Aleutian basin lease sale, MMS would likely have to prepare an environmental impact statement, John Goll, director of the MMS Alaska region, told the North Aleutian Basin Energy-Fisheries Workshop March 19.
“We’ve told companies that if anybody does want to come in and shoot seismic, it’s very likely that we will have to do an EIS,” Goll said.
Preparation of an EIS of this type would involve a major amount of work, Goll said.
Much 2-D seismic was shot in the sale area during north Aleutian oil and gas exploration in the 1980s, and in earlier phases of exploration in the region. Goll expects that if a lease sale were to take place companies would use that existing seismic to determine what tracts to bid on. He said that he has heard that seismic companies are reprocessing the old data, so that it is unlikely that there will be a push to shoot new data before a lease sale.
“The sense that we’ve had from a number of companies that we’ve been talking to is, for the purposes of a lease sale, they probably would not need it,” Goll said.
On the other hand, once companies own leases they tend to want to shoot 3-D seismic, to identify where to drill wells. A benefit of 3-D seismic is that it can reduce the number of exploration wells needed, Goll said.
Goll also emphasized that the planning and preparation process leading to a North Aleutian sale was still in its early stages and that MMS had yet to decide whether to hold the proposed sale.
The Bristol Bay and north Aleutian area is home to several major fisheries, including salmon, pollock and crab fisheries. Subsistence fishing and hunting are also mainstays of the rural economy and way of life in the region.
See story in March 30 issue of Petroleum News, available to subscribers online at noon Friday, March 28 at www.petroleumnews.com.