Skip to comments.BP’s Liberty island, Regulators reveal company’s thinking on how to proceed with stalled Alaska
Posted on 10/08/2013 5:30:31 AM PDT by thackney
In June 2012, BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. made the startling announcement that it was dropping its ambitious plan to develop the offshore Liberty field using ultra extended-reach drilling from shore.
In the 15 months since, it has been less than clear what alternate approach, if any, BP might take on Liberty.
But now, the companys direction is becoming evident.
On the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management website devoted to Liberty, this statement has appeared:
BP Exploration (Alaska) is now proposing a stand-alone drilling and production processing island as the safest and most environmentally responsible course of development for the Liberty Prospect.
Suspension of production granted
Dawn Patience, spokeswoman for BP Alaska, told Petroleum News on Oct. 2 she had no reason to doubt the accuracy of the statement on the BOEM website. BP has been working with government officials on how to proceed with Liberty, located on federal leases in shallow water, about 20 feet deep, in the Beaufort Sea about six miles offshore and 15 miles east of Prudhoe Bay.
In December 2012, the BOEMs sister agency, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, granted BP a two-year suspension of production for Liberty unit leases OCS Y-1585 and Y-1650.
The agency gave the company until Dec. 31, 2014, to submit a new development and production plan for the unit, and cited the end of 2020 as the goal for first oil.
Back to initial idea
BP originally had hoped to put Liberty into production in 2011. Those plans, however, crumbled amid technical problems with the custom rig Parker Drilling Co. built for the project, as well as federal regulatory complications apparently stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.
Today, the gigantic rig remains idle on a pad at BPs Endicott field. The pad was where BP had planned to drill what it said would be the longest extended-reach holes ever attempted to tap the offshore Liberty reservoir.
BP had said drilling these superwells from land was the best approach.
But now, the company has returned to its initial idea of constructing a gravel island at Liberty with production facilities and a buried subsea pipeline to carry oil to shore.
Thats what BP did for its Northstar field, which sits in federal and state waters northwest of Prudhoe Bay.
150 million barrels
BP drilled and tested Liberty No. 1, the discovery well, in early 1997. The companys most recent publicly stated resource estimate for the Liberty field is approximately 150 million barrels of recoverable, high-quality light oil.
Proceeding with an artificial production island offers some difficult challenges. Questions will be raised about the potential impact to bowhead whales, which Native hunters pursue for food. Also, a unique kelp bed known as the Boulder Patch is in the vicinity of Liberty.
The fate of the Liberty drilling rig remains undecided, Patience said.
In its June 2012 announcement, BP said it decided against extended-reach drilling after doing a detailed 18-month review of the rig systems, an analysis of the projects risk and economics, and an assessment of the evolving regulatory framework.
The rig needed substantial modifications to its mud, hydraulics, pipe handling, heating and other systems, BP said.
Retrofitting the rig is now seen as too costly, Patience said.
In a Nov. 20, 2012, letter to the BSEE, the company said recovery from the Liberty leases could be as much as 15 percent higher using development concepts other than ultra extended-reach drilling.
That letter said BP already had spent in excess of $1 billion toward development of the Liberty unit.
Is this a case of ... being intimidated by the fed ... backing off ... then deciding, screw them, we’re doin’ it our way after all ?
Nope, it is a case where they had to build the biggest drill rig in the world to complete their plan. Then when the drill rig showed up, it didn’t meet the specification and could not complete the task.
Alaska Offshore Special Report: Reviews stall Liberty project
January 23, 2011
These are the “regulators” we need to send home.
These are the folks who need to be on the unemployment lines.
Each of these budinski paper pushers is causing the unemployment of 20 hardworking, PRODUCTIVE citizens. And that is just at the front end of the very real MULTIPLIER EFFECT.
It’s amazing how LIBERALS like Pelosi will acknowledge the Multiplier Effect when it starts with a welfare check, and then pretend it doesn’t occur with real, value added, productive jobs.
In this case, BP submitted a plan that the regulators approved.
Now BP can not follow through with their plan and want to drastically change it.
It doesn’t say it won’t get approved. They have approved similar plans. But it does need to go through the review process, just like the others.