MMS issues draft EIS for drilling program off California

The US Minerals Management Service has issued a draft environmental impact statement for proposed delineation drilling off Santa Barbara County, Calif. It evaluates four undeveloped drilling units: Gatop Canyon in the western Santa Barbara Channel, Bonito off Point Conception, and Purisma Point and Point Sal, both off the northern coast.


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, June 19 -- The US Minerals Management Service has issued a draft environmental impact statement for proposed delineation drilling off Santa Barbara County, Calif.

The EIS evaluates the potential impact of proposed drilling on four undeveloped drilling units: Gato Canyon in the western Santa Barbara Channel, Bonito off Point Conception, and Purisma Point and Point Sal, both off the northern coast of the county.

MMS said operators are planning the sequential drilling of four to five delineation wells on the four units by a single semisubmersible rig.

It said previous exploration found significant quantities of hydrocarbons on each unit. The California Coastal Commission has approved exploration plans for the four holes.

MMS said 28 exploration wells have been drilled in the area where activities are proposed. "Because a number of years have elapsed since the approvals, MMS is requiring the operators of the leases to update the previously approved exploration plans through revisions."

The agency noted, "The development of a draft EIS for exploratory or delineation activities is unprecedented. The development of this EIS and the inclusion of an extensive cumulative analysis of the hypothetical development of all 36 currently undeveloped leases was performed in response to concerns expressed by, and commitments made to, Gov. Gray Davis and Coastal Commission Chair Sara Wan by the Interior Department and the MMS in 1999."

Comments on the draft EIS, which is available on the MMS web page and at several public libraries in California, are due Aug. 13.

MMS also will hold public hearings July 10 at the Doubletree Inn in Santa Barbara and July 12 at the Ethel Pope Auditorium in Santa Maria.

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