New Oil and Gas Island Approved off Alaska
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has approved Hilcorp Alaska's for its Liberty Project oil and gas development and production plan. If developed, the facility would be the first oil and gas production facility in federal waters off Alaska.
Hilcorp proposes to build a nine-acre artificial gravel island in the shallow waters of the Beaufort Sea, about 20 miles east of Prudhoe Bay and about five miles off the coast in 19 feet of water. The 9.3-acre, gravel island will take an estimated two years to construct.
Liberty is the largest undeveloped, light-oil reservoir on the North Slope, with an estimated 80-150 million barrels of recoverable oil. Peak production of between 60,000 and 70,000 barrels/day is projected within two years of initial production. The field has a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years.
The facility would be similar to the four oil-and-gas-producing artificial islands currently operating in the area’s state waters: Spy Island, Northstar Island, Endicott Island and Oooguruk Island. Artificial islands in the region date back to the mid-1970s.
Approval conditions include: restricted drilling into the hydrocarbon-bearing zone, which may occur only during times of solid ice conditions and seasonal restrictions on activities and vessel traffic to reduce potential disturbance to Cross Island subsistence whaling activities.
“There are already four other gravel-island facilities off the North Slope, and we consider Hilcorp’s plan to represent a relatively conservative, time-tested approach toward offshore oil and gas development," said Joe Balash, the Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. "Using input from North Slope communities, tribal organizations, and the public, we have developed a robust set of environmental mitigation measures and safety practices that will be applied to this project.”