Policy & Government

US Approves Alaska Offshore Drilling From Gravel Island

Courtesy: James Brooks/Kodiak Daily Mirror via AP

Source: Washington Post

Petroleum exploration has largely ceased in federal waters off Alaska but an Italian multinational oil and gas company has received permission to move ahead with modest drilling plans on leases sold in 2005.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management late Wednesday announced conditional approval of an exploratory drilling plan submitted by Eni US Operating Co. Inc., part of Eni S.p.A.

The company plans to drill four exploration wells from the Spy Island drill site, an 11-acre (.04-square kilometer) artificial gravel island constructed in state of Alaska waters 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to2.4 meters) deep. It’s one of four artificial islands in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s north coast that support oil production.

Former President Barack Obama last year banned oil and gas exploration in most of the Arctic Ocean. President Donald Trump in April ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the ban with the goal of opening offshore areas. Environmental and Alaska Native groups in May sued to maintain the ban.

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