OGJ Washington Editor
WASHINGTON, DC, July 7 -- The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement requested public comments on July 5 for an environmental assessment it is preparing on a revised exploration plan Shell Offshore Inc. submitted for planned activity off Alaska in the Beaufort Sea. BOEMRE said it will accept comments regarding the EA through July 15.
BOEMRE also will accept comments on the revised exploration plan and a related oil discharge prevention and contingency plan until July 25, it said. The revised EP will be prepared in accordance with new safety and environmental standards implemented after the Macondo well accident and subsequent Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, it noted.
BOEMRE’s announcement came after the US Environmental Protection Agency issued new draft air quality permits for Shell’s proposed Arctic offshore operations in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas (OGJ Online, July 5, 2011). EPA said it would accept public comments on the draft permits through Aug. 5 as well as hold a public hearing in Barrow on Aug. 4 before deciding whether to issue final permits.
BOEMRE said Shell’s revised EP, which the agency deemed submitted on July 5, proposed drilling four exploratory wells 16-23 miles off northern Alaska in 110-125 ft of water. It explained that an EP is deemed submitted once all supporting materials and documentation have been provided, and have met regulatory requirements.
At that point, BOEMRE has 30 days to analyze and evaluate it, the agency said. It then prepares an EA specific to the proposed exploration activities and, once the technical and environmental reviews are complete, decides whether to approve the plan, require modifications, or reject it.
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BOEMRE seeks comments on Shell's revised Beaufort Sea plan