BSEE approves Nikaitchuq North
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has approved an application by Eni U.S. Operating Co. for a permit to drill an extended reach exploration well into the Nikaitchuq North prospect in federal leases on the outer continental shelf of the Beaufort Sea. Eni hopes to start drilling the well in mid-December.
Success with this winter’s drilling could lead to the drilling of a second extended reach well next winter. BSEE says that Eni is conducting the drilling in partnership with Shell.
Eni will drill the well from an existing drill pad on the artificial Spy Island, a part of the operating Nikaitchuq oil field in state nearshore waters of the Beaufort. The federal Nikaitchuq North leases lie in the Harrison Bay Block 6423 unit, immediately north of the state leases.
The idea is to test for new resources that can be added to the reserves for the Nikaitchuq field, and to enable increased production at the field. Eni has said that the existing production facilities can handle production rates significantly higher than at present.
“Responsible resource development in the Arctic is a critical component to achieving American energy dominance,” said BSEE Director Scott Angelle when announcing the permit approval. “BSEE is committed to working with our Alaskan Native and industry partners by taking a thoughtful and balanced approach to oil and gas exploration, development and production in the Arctic.”
“BSEE Alaska Region staff conducted a thorough and complete review of Eni’s well design, testing procedures and safety protocol,” said Mark Fesmire, BSEE Alaska Region director. “Exploration must be conducted safely, and responsibly in relation to the Arctic environment and we will continue to engage Eni as they move forward with drilling its exploratory well.”
- ALAN BAILEY