April Conservation Series: Shell Exploration Plan

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Tastylia (Tadalafil) Buy 20 MG Last week, we brought attention to the recently approved proposal from the Royal Dutch Shell Company (Shell) to continue exploratory drilling within the Arctic. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) now has 30 calendar days to analyse and evaluate the proposal and either approve, conditionally approve, or disapprove it. The director of BOEM’s Alaska OCS region said, “We will be carefully scrutinizing this revised EP [Exploration Plan] to determine whether it meets stringent environmental and regulatory standards,” The public also has two opportunities to comment on the proposal; for 10-days, ending on April 20, and for 21 days, ending on May 1. The EP is quite long, at 139 pages, and so it’s doubtful that many members of the public are going to take the time to read the whole document.

http://arc-theatre.com/company/leadership-roles/artistic-team/404/ Luckily for you, we’ve already done that, and have summarized the main similarities and differences between the new EP and the one that Shell presented in 2012.

Shell proposes to drill in the same six wells that they attempted to drill in 2012, that are under approximately 140 feet of water, about 70 miles Northeast of the village of Wainwright. Shell maintains their estimate for the lowest average oil flow rate of 15,920.33 barrels of oil/well/day. Shell also maintains its original oil spill response plan (OSRP), that they estimate will be able to recover more oil than the maximum amount of oil produced by its highest producing well. This response plan is conditional on them being able to use their two drilling vessels to drill relief wells.

Along with the OSPR, Shell made no changes to its well control plan, which is in place to account for any changes in well activity. They also have made very few changes to their ice management plan.

One of the major differences with the new EP is that Shell intends to use two drilling ships, the TransOcean Ltd. owned Explorer and the Polar Pioneer. Shell describes these drilling ships as being equipped with “state of the art drilling and well control” technology. The reason for having two ships is to be able to effectively drill relief wells if there is a well control incident.



Polar Pioneer

Polar Pioneer

Also in order to address the mishaps that occurred with Shell in 2012, they propose to have a larger fleet of support vessels. This includes Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) and Offshore Supply Vessels (OSV). These groups of ships will be used for a wide array of tasks including ice breaking, clean ups, and resupplying. Shell intends to almost double the number of round trips by Offshore Supply Vessels, from 17 to 30 per season, to resupply crews on board the rigs.

Shell also proposes to increase the frequency of airplane trips to switch crews on board the rigs from 12 a week to an estimated 40. They also propose to add an extra helicopter to their aircraft fleet.

Shell proposes to no longer recycle drilling fluids and instead discharge it after each well is drilled to its total depth. The reason for this is because of limited space on the drilling units and a need for multiple types of drilling fluids.

Finally, Shell will conduct a blowout-preventer pressure test every 14 days rather than every seven days, which was proposed in 2012.

These changes have received praise as well as criticism from environmentalists. Some have praised the EP for addressing the differences in difficulties of performing drilling in the Arctic environment. Others have stated that these revisions do not provide an adequate plan for safely drilling in the Arctic, or dealing with an oil spill in that area. Greenpeace said in a statement, “There is no such thing as safe Arctic drilling. If a spill occurs towards the end of Shell’s drilling window, the sea ice won’t wait for the company to drill a relief well. These proposed regulations would only give a false sense of security.”

Like we mentioned, the first chance for you to comment on this Exploration Plan ends on April 20th, 2015! It is important for everyone to voice their opinion on whether Shell should proceed with their plan! Every voice counts! Leave your comments here!