Among the conditions of approval, according to BOEM, is the requirement that Shell obtain all necessary permits from other state and federal agencies, including permits to drill from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and appropriate authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
BOEM added: another condition of approval prevents Shell from commencing drilling operations until allBiological Opinions under the Endangered Species Act have been issued and requires all operations under the plan to comply with the terms and conditions included in those Biological Opinions.
“We have taken a thoughtful approach to carefully consider potential exploration in the Chukchi Sea, recognizing the significant environmental, social, and ecological resources in the region and establishing high standards for the protection of this critical ecosystem, our Arctic communities, and the subsistence needs and cultural traditions of Alaska Natives,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper. “As we move forward, any offshore exploratory activities will continue to be subject to rigorous safety standards.”
Shell plans to drill in the Chukchi Sea, which is expected to hold up to 15 bbl of oil. The company’s revised EP proposes to drill up to six wells within the Burger prospect, located in about 140 ft (43 m) of water about 70 mi (113 km) northwest of the village of Wainwright.
The drillshipM/V Noble Discoverer and the semisub drilling unit Transocean Polar Pioneer, with each vessel providing relief-well capability for the other. BOEM noted that the two drilling units and their supporting vessels will depart the Chukchi Sea at the conclusion of each exploration drilling season.
NOIA President Randall Luthi stated: “The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s decision to conditionally allow Shell to proceed with the carefully planned and coordinated drilling effort in Alaska is good news. The potential for energy development in the Chukchi Sea would allow Alaskans to benefit from well-paying jobs and resources to safeguard the environment, protect native traditional activities, and improve communities. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline may also benefit from the flow of resulting production. For the rest of the US and the world, successful oil and natural gas development in the area will help to meet the ever increasing demand for reliable, reasonably-priced energy.”
A copy of BOEM’s conditional approval letter, the approved EP, the Environmental Assessment and the Finding of No Significant Impact are available at:www.boem.gov/shell-chukchi/