Eni kicks off Arctic exploration drilling in Beaufort Sea, Alaska

US oil and gas news : The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) says that new oil exploration activities in Arctic federal waters have commenced with Eni initiating the process off the north Alaska coast as part of its Nikaitchuq North exploration project.

Eni US Operating, a subsidiary of the Italian oil and gas major has started drilling in pursuit of hydrocarbons, having spudded a new oil well from its existing man-made island named Spy Island Drillsite in the Beaufort Sea.

It can be recalled that in mid-July, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved the exploration plan of Eni for its Nikaitchuq North exploration project.

In late November, Eni secured approval from BSEE to begin drilling with the bureau carrying out a pre-drill inspection to check drilling equipment, overall readiness, test key safety devices and cross-checking stipulations and environmental mitigation measures.

Eni's arctic exploration drilling activity in Beaufort Sea, Alaska

Eni’s arctic exploration drilling activity in Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

Joe Balash – The United States Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management said: “The Arctic is an important component of the Administration’s national energy strategy, and today’s news is great for America as the United States advances toward energy dominance.

“Interior is actively working with a number of Alaska Native partners, who rely on the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas for their subsistence way of life, to ensure a healthy environment for today and future generations.”

BSEE revealed that it will closely monitor the progress of Eni’s exploration activities by making regular visits to the drill location and oversee critical operations like Blowout Preventer testing.

Mark Fesmire – BSEE Alaska Region Director said: “It’s critical that our BSEE inspection team were on-hand this month to witness equipment tests and verify all operations.

“As drilling operations continue, BSEE will provide oversight to ensure operations are being conducted in accordance with approved plans and permits.”

BSEE stated that apart from the new federal drilling activities in the Outer Continental Shelf from Spy Island, its personnel are monitoring oil production at Northstar Island, also located in the Beaufort Sea, where Hilcorp Alaska is producing about 10,000 barrels of oil per day.

Another project in the Beaufort Sea, named as the Liberty Energy Project owned by Hilcorp, ASRC Exploration and BP is awaiting approval from BOEM.

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