Italian oil producer Eni began drilling the new well off the north coast of Alaska, becoming the first company to do so since 2015, reports Reuters.
"New oil exploration in Arctic federal waters is underway this week with the spudding of a new oil well from an existing man-made island in the Beaufort Sea. Two Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) personnel were on-hand Monday ensuring compliance with approved permits, federal regulations and safety standards as Eni U.S. Operating Co Inc began new well operations from Spy Island Drillsite in State waters," said a press statement from regulator U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).
The well is expected to be over six miles (10 kilometers) long, and the project could result in oil production levels of 20,000 barrels a day. Eni is working with Royal Dutch Shell and plans to drill two exploration wells plus two potential sidetrack wells over the next two years.
The spudding of the well follows the Bureau’s Nov. 28 approval of Eni’s Application for Permit to Drill, and a pre-drill inspection Dec. 6-10. During a pre-drill inspection BSEE examined drilling equipment, assessed overall readiness, tested key safety devices
, and verified lease stipulations and environmental mitigation measures.
The oil and gas firm is working from an artificial island in the Beaufort Sea about three miles off Oliktok Point in the Arctic Ocean. The well is expected to run more than 6 miles (10 km) long.
The project could result in 20,000 barrels a day of oil production, according to BSEE, which said it sent employees to the site to ensure compliance with federal regulations and safety standards.
Eni, which has existing production facilities on the island and at Oliktok Point, did not immediately reply to requests for comment.