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After month, Endeavour yet to emigrate

Posted: November 3, 2012 - 8:24pm  |  Updated: November 3, 2012 - 8:29pm

Buccaneer Energy’s Endeavour-Spirit of Independence jack-up rig arrived in Kachemak Bay the end of August after completing a 20-day trip on the heavy lift vessel Keng Sheng Kou from Singapore. Plans called for it to be moved to Buccaneer’s leases in the Northwest Cook Inlet Unit, near ConocoPhillips’ Tyonek platform on Aug. 31.

Plans changed, however.

For one thing, the rig is now destined for Buccaneer’s Cosmopolitan project, an offshore drilling play near Stariski.

In addition, it is uncertain when the rig, now at Homer’s Deep Water Dock, will actually depart.

After the rig’s arrival in Kachemak Bay, a fast-rescue craft on the rig was recalled and had to be replaced, the general alarm system was found in need of repair and a replacement valve had to be installed in the Endeavour’s firefighting system. At two community outreach meetings in Homer last week, Buccaneer representatives said it was anticipated the work would be complete and the rig would leave Homer by Oct. 31.

“Assuming that repairs continue at the current pace, all of the necessary parts arrive and inspections go as planned, the rig could be ready to leave in the first part of November,” Jim Watt, president of Buccaneer Alaska, told the Homer News on Tuesday.

Adding that “no one is more interested in getting the jack-up into service than we are,” Watt referenced the unexpected repairs required after the jack-up rig arrived in Alaska.

“Once these issues have been resolved, we can safely deploy the Endeavour to the Cosmopolitan location for the winter,” said Watt.

Acting harbormaster Aaron Glidden said it is his understanding when work on the Endeavour is completed, “they’re actually going to go drill.” Glidden said Buccaneer had given notice to the city the rig would remain at the Deep Water Dock until Nov. 1, “and then it looks like they haven’t quite completed their work. I fully expect for them to extend that for a little bit, but am not sure how long.”

Before Buccaneer can begin drilling at the Cosmopolitan site, however, its Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plan, known as a C-Plan, must be approved by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. An amendment to the approved C-Plan for Buccaneer’s operations in Upper Cook Inlet was submitted for the Cosmopolitan project, but a cursory review by DEC showed “there were substantial pieces missing we’d need to see before we proceeded further,” said Graham Wood, DEC environmental program manager.

Consultants for Buccaneer and DNR met Tuesday to discuss putting together a better amendment package.

Watt said Buccaneer’s proposed drilling plan for the Cosmopolitan project was designed using downhole data developed during previous drilling operations at the site. That means, “we and the state already know the characteristics of the reservoirs into which we will drill, including reservoir pressures, our proposed well design, mud program and surface well control equipment will further minimize the risk of any spill,” said Watt.

Wood said an optimistic review timeline for approving a revised C-Plan for Cosmopolitan is 85-90 days.

“I expect this one will take a little longer,” said Wood, anticipating public comments that will have to be addressed as applicable.

Buccaneer has already applied for an Alaska Department of Natural Resources Tideland Permit to relocate the jack-up rig to Port Graham, said DNR’s Kyle Smith. The public comment period on that permit application closed last week and it is currently under review by the state.

“In a week or two there should be a decision on whether they get the permit or not,” said Smith.

On Tuesday afternoon, DNR published a public notice of Buccaneer’s application for a second tideland permit, that one to relocate the rig to the Cosmopolitan site.

“The permit would allow the rig to be towed to the site to conduct modification of the rig,” said the notice. “No type of ground disturbance, with an exception to securing the drill rig, would be authorized under this permit.”

Written comments on that permit must be received by 5 p.m. Nov. 28. Questions concerning the proposal or requests to view the full application packet should be directed to Christy Colles at 334-2683 or christianna.colles@alaska.gov.

A U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Compliance inspection will have to be conducted on the rig “just prior to drilling,” said Lt. Sarah Geoffrion with the Marine Safety Detachment in Homer. That inspection is not needed to move the Endeavour.

“We’re not holding it to the dock in Homer,” said Geoffrion.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

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