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The U.S. unit of Italy’s oil major Eni started this week the spudding of a new oil well in the Beaufort Sea, in the first Arctic exploration operations on the Outer Continental Shelf in more than two years, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has said.
The start of the drilling follows BSEE’s approval of Eni’s application for permit to drill at the end of November.
If exploratory drilling is successful and new development ensues, it could lead to new production of 20,000 barrels of oil per day, according to Eni’s plans.
The exploratory drilling is taking place on a man-made island 3 miles offshore of Oliktok Point, in State of Alaska waters. Both the artificial island, Spy Island, and the Oliktok point are already home to 18 producing wells, 13 injector wells, and one disposal well operated by Eni.
Eni is now proposing to use extended-reach drilling techniques to drill into federal submerged lands. The extended reach drilling will target a formation in the newly formed Harrison Bay Block 6423 unit, a 13-lease unit on the OCS that BSEE approved in December last year.
“Eni will explore the Harrison Bay Block 6423 Unit in partnership with Shell and plans to drill two explorations wells plus two potential sidetracks over the next two years,” the U.S. regulator said when it approved the permit to drill at the end of November.
“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’s Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, Joe Balash, said in BSEE’s press release on December 27.
In April this year, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to open offshore drilling to part of Alaska’s Arctic waters and to other previously off-limits offshore areas.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.