EPA issues Shell second Alaska arctic air-quality permit

The US Environmental Protection Agency issued Shell Offshore Inc. a second federal air-quality permit on Apr. 9 to operate this summer off Alaska’s coast, this time in the Beaufort Sea.

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 12 -- The US Environmental Protection Agency issued Shell Offshore Inc. a second federal air-quality permit on Apr. 9 to operate this summer off Alaska’s coast, this time in the Beaufort Sea. The permit is similar to one EPA’s Region 10 district office issued to Shell Offshore on Apr. 1 for Chukchi Sea operations.

Like the earlier Arctic Ocean permit, this one will regulate emissions from Shell Offshore’s Frontier Discoverer drillship and support vessels during the 2010 drilling season from July to December. “We’ve listened closely to the Arctic communities of Kaktovik, Nuiqsut, and Barrow in our effort to craft a permit that is both effective and enforceable,” said Rick Albright, director of the air, waste, and toxics office at EPA’s Region 10 office in Seattle.

The permit must ensure that operations meet prevention of significant deterioration requirements under the federal Clean Air Act in addition to US Minerals Management Service regulations because the drillship operations are considered a major air pollution source under EPA regulations, Albright said. Approval was partly based on installation of pollution-reduction controls implementing the best available control technology on the Frontier Discoverer, he said.

The permit also requires Shell Offshore to reduce air emissions by using selective catalytic reduction on one of the icebreakers, a catalytic diesel particulate filter on the Nanuq, and ultralow-sulfur diesel fuel on all vessels involved in the project, EPA said.

It noted that it proposed the permit for public comment on Feb. 17 and held informational meetings and public hearings in Kaktovik on Mar. 17, Nuiqsut on Mar. 17, and Barrow on Mar. 18. EPA said that petitions for review must be received by May 12.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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