Thursday, June 24, 2010

Alaska BP Offshore Rig Drills While Others Sit Idle

Two-mile deep hole will slant 8 miles horizontal to new reserve

Offshore wells in the Beaufort Sea are sitting idle under a
drilling moratorium - except one.

British Petroleum's Liberty project has been exempted from
the offshore drilling ban because it is drilling in the
Beaufort Sea from a man-made gravel island in shallow water.

The well is projected to go two miles deep, then slant
horizontally for up to 8 miles to reach a new reserve of
about 100 million barrels on a federal lease.

How did the giant oil company get its special permission?

Scientists at the regulatory agency that ramrods such
permits insist that the 2007 permit process was taken out of
their hands and turned over to another division known to be
much more "pro-drilling."

The project was thus granted an "onshore" status, though it
is located on the artificial gravel island some five miles
offshore and reached by a causeway.

According to a New York Times story that appeared today,
federal regulators took a break from their usual practice
and allowed BP to write its own environmental review and
other consultation documents regarding endangered species.

The story attributed the information to two unnamed
scientists with the Mineral Management Service.

Constructing such man-made islands upon which to base
drilling operations is a standard practice in the area due
to ice floes that threaten the structure of conventional
offshore rigs.

"Impact to wetlands have been significantly reduced
including shoreline and tundra habitat for birds and
caribou," according to the development proposal written in
2007 by BP staff.

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