Eni has secured an approval from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for its exploration plan (EP) for the Nikaitchuq North exploration project in Beaufort Sea in the US state of Alaska.
Its subsidiary Eni US Operating plans to drill four exploration wells into the submerged lands of the Beaufort Sea owned by the US government. Eni said that it wanted to carry out the drilling from the Spy Island Drillsite which is an already existing man-made island owned by the company.
The artificial gravel island is located in the state waters of Alaska from which the drilling will commence in December and will be carried out only during winter months.
BOEM stated that it had evaluated the EP carefully in the last 30 days in compliance with federal law and regulations. Its evaluation featured a site-specific Environmental Assessment (EA) of the proposed exploration operations in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
The EA found out that the proposed Eni’s operations would not have any significant impact on the environment.
It also said that the approval for the EP was given following a detailed review and after taking into account the feedback the public, stakeholders, and federal and state partner agencies and tribes.
BOEM acting director Walter Cruickshank said: “Eni brought to us a solid, well-considered plan.
“We know there are vast oil and gas resources under the Beaufort Sea, and we look forward to working with Eni in their efforts to tap into this energy potential.”
BOEM’s approval has been condemned though by the Center for Biological Diversity which warns of potential oil spill in the biologically rich region in the Arctic should the project move ahead.
Center for Biological Diversity attorney Kristen Monsell said: “Approving this Arctic drilling plan at the 11th hour makes a dangerous project even riskier.
“An oil spill here would do incredible damage, and it’d be impossible to clean up. The Trump administration clearly cares only about appeasing oil companies, no matter its legal obligations or the threats to polar bears or our planet.”