This week, Italy-based Eni submitted its proposal to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for a drilling project on Spy Island in the Beaufort Sea. The proposal is welcome news for an area that has seen frustrating delays and anti-growth leasing policies in recent months.
Eni has been exploring on the North Slope since 2006, and currently holds 75 leases in federal waters off the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The company is proposing to drill four exploration wells on Spy Island, a man made gravel island located about three miles offshore of Oliktok Point (see map below). The island is located in shallow water that’s between 6-9 feet deep.
Now that the company has submitted its plans, BOEM has 30 calendar days to review the exploration plan. BOEM will then hold a 30-day comment period before it makes a final decision on whether to approve the project.
If approved, Eni will join other E&P companies which have had great success with exploration and development in the Beaufort Sea. Companies such as Caelus, Hilcorp, and BP have shown how safe and efficient development can be achieved on man-made gravel islands. Hilcorp is also awaiting approval from BOEM to begin construction of an additional gravel island, known as Liberty.
Interior Secretary Zinke’s recent trip to Alaska sparked hope among Alaskans and producers alike that more energy-friendly leasing opportunities and policies are on the way. This current wave of activity in the Beaufort further proves the industry’s desire to explore in America’s Arctic waters and the need for policies that promote such exploration.