BOEM approves Eni’s Beaufort Sea exploration plan

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management conditionally approved a Beaufort Sea exploration plan it received from Eni US Operating Co., a subsidiary of Italian multinational oil and gas company Eni SPA, for the drilling of four exploration wells in federal submerged lands from its preexisting Spy Island drill site in Alaskan state waters starting in December, the US Department of the Interior agency said on July 12.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management conditionally approved a Beaufort Sea exploration plan it received from Eni US Operating Co., a subsidiary of Italian multinational oil and gas company Eni SPA, for the drilling of four exploration wells in federal submerged lands from its preexisting Spy Island drill site in Alaskan state waters starting in December, the US Department of the Interior agency said on July 12.

“Eni brought to us a solid, well-considered plan,” said Walter B. Cruickshank, BOEM acting director.

Drilling will take place only during the winter months, BOEM noted. Its evaluation of the exploration plan during the past 30 days included a site-specific environmental assessment (EA) of the proposed exploration activities under the National Environmental Policy Act. The EA concluded with a finding of no significant impact, BOEM said.

The evaluation also included two separate public comment periods: one to give the public the opportunity to provide information on issues that should be examined in the EA, and one to comment on the exploration plan (EP) itself, it said.

An EP describes all exploration activities the operator plans for a specific lease or leases, including the timing of these activities, information concerning drilling processes, the surface location of each planned well, and actions to be taken to meet important safety and environmental standards and to protect access to subsistence resources. It does not allow an operator to produce oil if any is found; for that, an operator must obtain approval of a development and production plan, BOEM said.

It said that approval conditions include a requirement for Eni to procure all appropriate permits from other state and federal agencies, including drilling permits from the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. A list of the permits Eni intends to apply for is located in Table A-1 of the EP. A full list of approval conditions can be found in the approval letter at boem.gov/eni-ep-2017/.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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