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May 20, 2011 --- Vol. 17, No. 46May 2011

BOEMRE releases draft Chukchi Sea SEIS

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement has released a new draft supplementary environmental impact statement for the 2008 Chukchi Sea lease sale in which Shell, ConocoPhillips, Statoil and others had purchased leases for Chukchi Sea oil and gas exploration.

In July 2010 the U.S. district court in Alaska, in response to an appeal against the lease sale, ordered BOEMRE to rework some aspects of the original EIS for the sale, and the court banned lease related activities in the Chukchi Sea until BOEMRE prepared a new SEIS to the court’s satisfaction.

BOEMRE initially released a draft SEIS in October in response the court’s order, but after reviewing public comments on the draft document elected to add to the SEIS an analysis of a very large oil spill in the Chukchi to the document. BOEMRE has now completed that analysis and has published another draft SEIS for further public review.

“This revised draft SEIS offers additional environmental analysis supplementing the review completed as part of the planning for lease sale 193 (the 2008 Chukchi Sea sale),” BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich said today in announcing the release of the document. “Because of what is at stake, it is extremely important that we continue to make this a transparent process that encourages the maximum amount of public participation.”

Yesterday District Court Judge Ralph Beistline issued an order requiring BOEMRE to publish the final SEIS by Oct. 3. Shell, unable to proceed with its planned Chukchi Sea exploration drilling until the court case is resolved, had asked the court to mandate a Sept. 15 completion date for the document. But, following protests from both the Department of the Interior and the plaintiffs in the case, with Interior saying that it needs adequate time to complete the public review process, Beistline has settled for a compromise date, a few weeks earlier than BOEMRE’s estimated completion schedule of late October.

See full story in May 29 issue, available at 11 a.m. Friday, May 27, at www.PetroleumNews

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