Hard on the heels of an Aug. 5 order by the Alaska District Court, making it clear that Statoilís planned 2010 Chukchi Sea seismic survey program does not fall within the scope of a July 21 court injunction, Statoil has received the two remaining permits that it needs to start its seismic work ó the companyís seismic fleet is preparing to set sail for the Chukchi from Dutch Harbor as soon as possible, Statoil spokeswoman Karin Berensten told Petroleum News today.
The Department of the Interior issued Statoilís geological and geophysical exploration permit yesterday, while the National Marine Fisheries Service issued an incidental harassment authorization today, Berensten said.
District Court Judge Ralph Beistline had issued the injunction in response to an appeal against the U.S. Minerals Management Service 2008 Chukchi Sea lease sale in which both Shell and Statoil had picked up leases. The judge banned all activities relating to leases purchased in that lease sale until the U.S. Department of Interior reworks some aspects of the saleís environmental impact statement.
But uncertainty about whether the injunction applies to Statoilís seismic work had caused DOI and NMFS to delay the issue of the G&G permit and the IHA, thus raising the possibility of Statoil having to cancel its 2010 program ó the company has said that it expects the program to take about 60 days to complete, and that sea ice may start to form in the survey area by late September.
See story in Aug. 15 issue, available to subscribers online at noon, Friday, Aug. 13, at www.PetroleumNews.com