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Royal Dutch Shell Plc. com: Seismic survey permits issued to Shell Offshore and ConocoPhillips Alaska

From Petroleum News
By Kay Cashman

MMS issues Chukchi seismic permits

On June 20, the U.S. Minerals Management Service issued seismic survey permits for the Chukchi Sea to Shell Offshore, ConocoPhillips Alaska and GX Technology. A permit for Shell to shoot seismic in the Beaufort Sea will be issued in the next couple of weeks, MMS said.

All work will start this summer and must be completed by Nov. 30, MMS said.

Shell and ConocoPhillips’ seismic contractor is already gearing up in Dutch Harbor for the voyage north.

The permits from MMS are conditional upon the companies obtaining required authorizations from both the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bruce Woods in FWS’ Anchorage office said his agency’s authorizations have all been granted.

NMFS fishery biologist Ken Hollingshead told Petroleum News June 29 that Shell and ConocoPhillips’ Incidental Harassment Authorizations are being processed and will be issued “in the next week or so.”

GX applied later than the other two companies, he said. “Its 30-day public comment period doesn’t end until July 3.”

NMFS has 45 days to process and issue, or deny, the IHA, but Hollingshead said the agency would try to do it in less time.

WesternGeco is the seismic contractor for Shell and ConocoPhillips; Shanghai Offshore Petroleum Geophysical is Houston-based GX’s contractor.

A map of the proposed seismic activities can be found at: http://www.mms.gov/alaska/ref/EIS%20EA/Final_PEA/Map%201%20Seismic%20Proposed%20Action%20Area.pdf.

Finding, PEA also out

Issuance of the permits coincided with MMS releasing a Finding of No Significant Impact and its final Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the seismic surveys proposed by the three companies. A copy of both can be found at:
http://www.mms.gov/alaska/ref/eis_ea.htm.

The agency said Shell, ConocoPhillips and GX have entered into conflict avoidance agreements with “the appropriate North Slope communities to avoid conflict with subsistence activities.”

MMS has tentatively scheduled Beaufort Sea and Chukchi lease sales for 2007. The next Beaufort Sea sale by the State of Alaska is in October.

Agency estimates say about 7 billion barrels of oil and 32 trillion cubic feet of gas can be recovered from under the Beaufort Sea. The corresponding estimates for the Chukchi are 15 billion barrels of oil and 60 trillion cubic feet of gas.

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