BP plans seismic tests at Milne Point field

Company considers expanding its field in Beaufort Sea.

Alaska Journal of CommerceJuly 15, 2012 

BP is planning a three-dimensional marine seismic survey this summer in shallow Beaufort Sea waters in Simpson Lagoon to test for possible extensions of the Milne Point field.

Milne Point is an onshore field that is now producing, but parts of its reservoir extend to the north under the Beaufort Sea. BP, which owns and operates Milne Point, thinks there is more oil there.

The survey will cover areas between Oliktok Point and Milne Point on the Beaufort Sea coast, and is being done to support potential onshore developments BP would undertake, company spokeswoman Dawn Patience said.

"We want to get a clear look and a better understanding of the reservoir to inform development opportunities and options in the Milne Point field." Patience said.

Parts of the field reservoir extending north under the ocean are being produced now with high-angle, extended-reach production wells drilled from shore.

The survey will begin in mid-July and will operate for about 50 days, Patience said. It will cover about 110 square miles including onshore portions with the offshore segment totalling 84 miles square miles, according to a notice published in the Federal Register July 6 by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, which has issued permits to BP to deal with possible wildlife encounters.

The marine part of the survey will cover areas inside barrier islands where water depths are very shallow, to depths of 9 feet, and areas beyond the barrier islands to waters depths of 45 feet.

Three seismic source vessels will be deployed in the operation by CGGVeritas, the contractor, according to the Federal Register.

"In designing the survey, we worked closely with local communities and the North Slope Borough. The survey has been carefully timed and will be carefully conducted to avoid or minimize wildlife impacts and avoid interfering with subsistence hunting and fishing," Patience said in a statement.

The area is used by local Inupiat villagers to hunt bowhead whales during the annual fall migration as well as seals, fish and other wildlife.

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