Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) informed that Eni US Operating Co. Inc. has met the regulatory requirements for its Beaufort Sea exploration plan (EP) to be “deemed submitted,” and invites public comment on the plan.
Eni US is a subsidiary of Italian oil and gas company Eni S.p.A. In its plan, Eni proposes to drill into the federal submerged lands of the Beaufort Sea from their Spy Island Drillsite, a pre-existing facility located in Alaska state waters.
BOEM now has 30 calendar days to evaluate the EP in accordance with federal law and regulations. This evaluation will include a site-specific environmental assessment of the proposed exploration activities pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. By the end of the 30-day period BOEM may approve the EP, require modifications to the EP, or disapprove the EP.
There will be two public comment periods:
- A 10-day period (closing midnight Eastern Time on Thursday, June 22) to provide information on issues that should be examined in the Environmental Assessment; and
- A 21-day period (closing at midnight Eastern Time on Monday, July 3) to comment on the Exploration Plan itself.
An EP describes all exploration activities planned by the operator 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. An EP does not allow an operator to produce oil if any is found; for that, an operator is required to obtain approval of a Development and Production Plan (DPP).
In addition to an approved EP, Eni is responsible for procuring all appropriate permits from other state and federal agencies.
There are currently four oil- and gas-producing islands in the waters of the Beaufort Sea: Spy Island, Northstar Island, Endicott Island, and Oooguruk Island. The construction of a fifth island, as proposed in a DPP submitted to BOEM by Hilcorp Alaska LLC, is under review by federal agencies.