BOEM seeks comments on Shell’s revised Chukchi Sea exploration plan

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management deemed Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc.’s revised multiyear Chukchi Sea exploration plan submitted, and sought public comments on the plan itself and questions to be addressed in an environmental assessment the US Department of the Interior agency is preparing.

BOEM said an EP describes all exploration activities an operator plans for a specific lease or leases, including the timing of these activities, information concerning drilling vessels, the location of each planned well, and actions to be taken to meet important safety and environmental standards and to protect access to subsistence resources.

“We will be carefully scrutinizing this revised EP to determine whether it meets stringent environmental and regulatory standards,” BOEM Alaska Region Director James Kendall said on Apr. 10.

The bureau now has 30 calendar days to analyze and evaluate the revised EP in accordance with federal law. As part of this analysis, BOEM will prepare a site-specific EA of the proposed exploration activities under the National Environmental Policy Act.

It said Shell’s revised EP proposes to continue the multiyear Chukchi Sea exploration drilling program the company began in July 2012. This program includes drilling up to six wells within the Burger Prospect, located in 140 ft of water 70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright.

Shell would conduct its operations using the M/V Noble Discoverer drillship and the Transocean Polar Pioneer semisubmersible drilling unit, with each vessel providing relief-well capability for the other, BOEM said. The two drilling units and their support vessels would leave the Chukchi Sea at the conclusion of each exploration drilling season, it noted.

Public comments will be accepted until Apr. 20 regarding issues BOEM should consider in preparing its EA of the revised exploration plan, and until May 1 on the revised EP itself.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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