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Vol. 12, No. 48 Week of December 02, 2007
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

MMS contracts for Bristol Bay study

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service said Nov. 27 it has contracted with Rutgers University, with the assistance of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, to modify an ice-ocean circulation model for Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

“Understanding the circulation within Bristol Bay will be important for us as we evaluate a possible oil and gas lease sale in the offshore waters of the North Aleutian basin,” MMS Alaska Regional Director John Goll said in a statement.

The contract calls for adapting an existing ice-ocean circulation model of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska to the specific oceanographic conditions within Alaska’s Bristol Bay. MMS said Rutgers will use the regional ocean modeling system which has “a significant peer-reviewed record of use in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.”

The modeling study began this fall and will continue for two years.

MMS Alaska spokeswoman Robin Cacy told Petroleum News the study’s timeframe was from September 2007 through September 2009 at a cost of $278,000.

Study objectives

The study’s main objectives are to:

• Modify the existing model to increase its predictive skill in Bristol Bay;

• Compare model predictions to field observations using oceanographic data within Bristol Bay and surrounding waters;

• Provide model results to MMS as a 1986-2006 hind-cast simulation — including wind, ice and surface water speed and direction and extent of ice cover; and

• Document the study results through a model manual, final report and publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

An oil and gas lease sale in the North Aleutian basin is proposed as part of the MMS 2007-12 five-year program. The agency said it scheduled the North Aleutian basin sale for 2011, late in the program, “to allow sufficient time to supplement existing environmental data for environmental analyses.”

MMS said it does not expect exploratory drilling and related operations in the North Aleutian basin to begin until 2012 or later.



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