Alaska: Apex Reports Shell Prepares Drilling Machinery for Chukchi and Beaufort Seas

Shell is planning to go ahead with its 2010 exploration program in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off northern Alaska, despite the unfolding oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

In preparation for assembling its Arctic drilling fleet, Shell has started moving vessels and has mobilized every piece of equipment that’s not local (in Alaska) and other equipment from distant locations, Shell’s Alaska vice president Pete Slaiby stated.

Slaiby expressed his confidence in the safety of his company’s planned operations because drilling conditions in the Alaska OCS will be very different from those in the Gulf of Mexico, because they are in 150 feet of water, versus 5,000 feet, and have about one third of the reservoir pressure. “The Chukchi Sea wells will bottom out at around a depth of 8,000 feet, as compared to the around 18,000-foot depth of the Gulf of Mexico well that went out of control,” Slaiby said.

Slaiby said that Shell officials are now embarking on visits to the North Slope to meet with people from the local communities, including people from the North Slope Borough and from the Northwest Arctic Borough, for discussions about how Shell’s Arctic drilling will compare with drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Shell wants to tell the story while recognizing the importance to provide the communities the opportunity to discuss their concerns.

Shell is confident that it can obtain the remaining permits that it needs for its Alaska drilling program in time to move its drilling fleet north through the Bering Strait in early July, as the Arctic sea ice retreats to the north. Shell is particularly pleased with the unanimous decision by a panel of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to reject an appeal against approval of the company’s 2010 Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea exploration plans.

However there is some uncertainty with respect to a court rejection of the revised version of the lease sale program of the Chukchi Sea leases. As a back up plan, Shell will likely go ahead with its planned Beaufort Sea drilling, even though the company views its Chukchi Sea program as having higher priority. Slaiby said, “If things go badly in the DC Circuit, the Beaufort would clearly still be an option.”

Roger Reynolds, Director of Apex Resources Group Inc. concludes that the unfortunate BP Oil disaster, might actually open up the shallow well drilling in the Arctic, with the potential of much safer drilling, while the USA can continue to strive to become energy independent. The fact that Shell is now positioning all “out-of-state” equipment to the North, speaks volumes of the focus toward opening up the very rich Arctic, which includes the Beaufort Sea.

Apex Resources Group Inc. is partners with Imperial Oil and ConocoPhillips and other majors in the Itiyok I-27 well a major oil and gas discovery known as the Significant Discovery License #55 (SDL#55) located in the Beaufort Sea. Apex Resources Group Inc. is the fourth largest partner in the Itiyok I-27 Well with a 3.745% working interest.


Source: Prnewswire, May 28, 2010;