January 18, 2007 --- Vol. 13, No. 5January 2007

Shell to conduct winter Beaufort Sea seismic research program

In a letter to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Shell Exploration and Production Co. has given notice of its intent to carry out a research program, to investigate the feasibility of seismic data acquisition from floating ice in the Beaufort Sea. Shell plans to conduct the research between mid-March and mid-May 2007.

The company wants to find a workable method of acquiring seismic data in offshore leases where the sea is too shallow for the operation of a seismic vessel during the summer. Conducting seismic operations during winter would also avoid conflicts with summer subsistence hunting by North Slope residents.

A primary focus of the research will be to find a technique that eliminates problems from excessive seismic noise transmitted through floating ice.

A Veritas survey team will try using a variety of seismic source and receiver configurations, to see if some particular combination of techniques eliminates the noise problem. The team will operate from a 35-sled trailer camp located on the offshore ice near the West Dock at Prudhoe Bay.

Monitoring of potential research sites will start in January, with the actual site being chosen using criteria such as the measured ice thickness.

For the complete story see the Jan. 21 edition of Petroleum News.

State opens upper foothills to tundra travel

The upper foothills area of state North Slope lands is now open for winter off-road tundra travel.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Mining, Land and Water said today that in field sampling yesterday it documented that the upper foothills has met the criteria for opening — nine inches of snow and minus 5 degrees C or colder soil temperature at a depth of 30 centimeters.

Effective 13:00 hours, Thursday, Jan. 18, the tundra is open to all vehicles in the upper foothills area for the 2006-07 winter season.

All tundra opening areas are now open.

The division said the opening applies only to those operators who have valid off-road vehicle travel permits to operate on state-owned lands on the North Slope.

Snow is thin in some areas, the division said, and those areas should be avoided or special construction methods used to protect the tundra surface. The ground may also be relatively soft in areas with heavily drifted snow.

The division said attention should be given to its stipulation regarding winter off-road vehicle travel and said state personnel will conduct site inspections periodically to ensure compliance.

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