The final environmental impact statement (EIS) for Hilcorp’s Liberty project in the Beaufort Sea has been made available by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
BOEM said on Thursday that the EIS analyzed the possible environmental impacts of activities proposed in a development and production plan (DPP) submitted to BOEM by Hilcorp Alaska LLC in 2015.
The Hilcorp Liberty Project DPP proposes building a nine-acre artificial gravel island in the shallow federal waters of the Beaufort Sea, east of Prudhoe Bay.
The island will be located about five miles off the coast, similar to the oil and gas producing artificial Spy Island, Northstar Island, Endicott Island, and Oooguruk Island currently operating in the area’s state waters.
The EIS analyzes the important environmental resources and uses that currently exist within the area proposed for the Liberty Project DPP, including bowhead and beluga whale populations and subsistence activities, and identifies mitigation measures to be considered when developing the area.
BOEM added that, after analyzing a range of alternatives, the EIS identified building a self-contained drilling and production facility on a gravel island with a pipeline to shore as the preferred alternative.
Walter Cruickshank, BOEM Acting Director, said: “After publishing a Draft EIS in August 2017, we conducted hearings in the Beaufort Sea communities of Utqiagvik and Nuiqsut, as well as in Anchorage and Fairbanks. This Final EIS incorporates input from those communities and the comments we received from other stakeholders, partner agencies, and the general public. With that input, our scientists have produced a robust analysis that thoroughly analyzes the potential impacts of Hilcorp’s proposal.”
It is worth noting that BOEM extended the period for accepting public comment on the Liberty project EIS draft back on November 16, 2017. The comment period ended the following month.
The Bureau also said that the Department of the Interior might sign a Record of Decision relating to the EIS no earlier than 30 days after the NOA publication in the Federal Register on August 31.
The Liberty Prospect is located 8.85 kilometers offshore in about six meters of water, inside the Beaufort Sea’s barrier islands. It is 32 kilometers east of Prudhoe Bay and about 13 kilometers east of the existing BP-operated Endicott oil field.
In November 2014, primary ownership and operatorship of Liberty was acquired by Hilcorp. Hilcorp estimates that Liberty contains approximately 150 million barrels of recoverable, high-quality crude oil.