Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
April 2017

Vol. 22, No. 16 Week of April 16, 2017

Eni revises C-plan for Nikaitchuq

Company provides standards for response planning for both summer, winter activity at proposed Nikaitchuq North exploration project

Eric Lidji

For Petroleum News

Eni US Operating Co Inc. has amended its oil spill contingency plan to accommodate a planned offshore exploration program in the waters north of its Nikaitchuq unit.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is taking comments on the plan through May 8 and will hold a public hearing on the matter if “good cause exists.”

The revision to the Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plan for the Nikaitchuq unit makes changes to the response planning standard for a potential spill at the Nikaitchuq North project. The revision estimates a maximum flow rate of 12,967 to 25,957 barrels per day, or 236,842 barrels total, for winter drilling, and a maximum flow rate of 2,827 to 3,634 barrels per day, or 46,190 barrels total, for summer drilling.

The planning standard uses information from a proposed project to determine the equipment and personnel that would be needed to respond to a hypothetical spill. The rates are calculated using “reservoir and well characteristics” and would be amended if the actual drilling produces flow rates that differ notably from the estimates volumes.

Revision for exploration

The existing plan only included development activities, which have been the only source of drilling activities at Nikaitchuq since Eni brought the unit into production in 2011.

Under the revised plan, Eni estimates a zero percent chance of the planning volume reaching open water during a winter spill. In a summer spill, Eni estimates that 80 percent of the oil would land on the Spy Island Drill Site and some would then migrate to open water.

In early March, the local subsidiary of the Italian major submitted a proposed exploration plan to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which has yet to release the plan.

The Nikaitchuq North plan is expected to involve some of the 29 federal leases the company holds in the Arctic outer continental shelf, north of the Nikaitchuq unit.

Eni holds a 40 percent interest in the leases, with Shell holding 40 percent and Repsol holding 20 percent. The leases are set to expire in July 2017 and December 2017.

Nikaitchuq North would likely involve extended-reach wells drilled from the existing Spy Island Drill Site, which the company has been using to target the outer reaches of the unit. The program could require some of the longest extended-reach wells ever drilled.

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