BOEM issues Hilcorp seismic EA, finding
Hilcorp Alaska applied last year to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for a permit for a 3D seismic survey for the federal waters of lower Cook Inlet.
On Aug. 6, BOEM issued an environmental assessment of the proposal and a finding of no significant impact. BOEM said it received no comments from the general public; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided comments as a cooperating agency. The seismic survey covers some 375 square miles of outer continental shelf waters, 42 OCS blocks in lower Cook Inlet, eight of which are leased by Hilcorp.
BOEM said the active data collection is expected to take some 30 days, but the survey program would last for some 45 to 60 days, depending on delays to weather, equipment or marine mammal presence, with the survey planned for June 1 to Oct. 31.
Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, OCS is required “to be made available for expeditious and orderly development, subject to environmental safeguards,” BOEM said.
The agency said it considered the no action alternative and the proposed action. Under the no action alternative the agency would not issue Hilcorp a permit for the seismic and Hilcorp “would not be able to identify and map potential hydrocarbon-bearing formations and the geologic structures that surround them, which could slow or prevent future development of these formations,” resulting in delays or lost opportunities for development.
In discussing anticipated impacts, BOEM said there are no critical habitat areas designated under the Endangered Species Act within the survey area, but “there are nearshore feeding areas used by beluga whales near the survey area, and transmission of noise into these feeding areas could result in behavioral impacts. To minimize these effects, the survey vessel would not acquire seismic data from blocks adjacent to the nearshore feeding areas and would only use those blocks as vessel turn-around areas.”
- Petroleum News