The most recent meeting of the Falkland Islands' Executive Council (ExCo) was dominated by matters relating to oil exploration and development including recommendations for plans of Noble Energy and Premier Oil to go ahead with drilling of Rhea-1 and Jayne East wells.
According to the report on the meeting the first paper addressed was a Review of Noble Energy Offshore Exploration Drilling Environmental Impact Statement, EIS, for the Rhea-1 Well in PL001 in the North Falkland Basin.
Attending the meeting, plus the regular members were, Director of Mineral Resources, Stephen Luxton, and Head of Environmental Planning, Steve Butler.
MLA Phyl Rendell said it was the third EIS before ExCo this year so the process was better understood and the standard of the cases had improved. Questions raised about the content of the EIS during the consultation period had been addressed by Noble Energy and MLAs were satisfied with the responses.
ExCo members were content to agree that the EIS was fit for purpose and that the additional information in the appendices should be attached to any consent to drill, and thus Noble Energy’s Oil spill Contingency Plan Appendix B Rhea-1 Well was also approved as an addition to an earlier plan.
MLAs also advised the Falklands' Governor to action the Director of Mineral Resources to give Noble consent to drill the well.
This was followed by two papers on Premier Oil’s activities which were also considered.
The ExCo report said that an application for an exemption for an EIS requirement from Premier Oil concerning the drilling of the Jayne East well was approved.
“Premier has learnt a great deal about the basin when drilling previous wells and has decided to use a more robust drilling design for this well,” said MLA Rendell.
The outcome is that some more cutting than originally planned will come to the surface of the seabed and there will be slightly more carbon release. Members welcomed the more conservative drilling approach and agreed that this mitigated against small increases in emissions and cuttings.
The second Premier Oil paper obtained consent to drill Jayne East. MLAs agreed there was no requirement for a further EIS in relation to drilling the well.
ExCo then addressed a paper referred to the need for further research in order to develop environmental legislation for offshore hydrocarbon activities.
Members supported the need to progress this work further and agreed to put the work out to tender. This will include looking at the Australian/Norwegian model introducing an “Environmental Case” structure and it was agreed that this could be addressed and brought back to ExCo for further consideration.
A paper on the division of offshore environmental regulatory roles and responsibilities between the Mineral Resources and Environmental Departments was discussed. With a considerable amount of work being undertaken and a good deal of cross-over between departments, the paper sets out clearly who does what. Members agreed the recommendations as to the role of each department along with an annual review on progress.
The last oil related paper addressed the possible scenarios for export of oil from the Sea Lion field.
Premier Oil had asked for consideration to be given by FIG to off-loading crude oil inshore, due to the perceived weather conditions at the Sea Lion well site.
Members agreed that the concept should be reviewed further by engaging consultants to address Premier’s proposals.
MLA Rendell said the public would be consulted on these matters as the possible scenarios for export of oil from the Sea Lion field. Premier Oil had asked for consideration to be given by FIG to off-loading crude oil inshore, due to the perceived weather conditions at the Sea Lion well site.
Members agreed that the concept should be reviewed further by engaging consultants to address Premier's proposals. (Penguin News).-