Shell Requests IHA for Offshore Exploratory Drilling in Beaufort Sea
On June 4, 2008, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service published a Federal Register notice that Shell Offshore, Inc., has applied for an Incidental Harassment Authorization. Shell wants the IHA to authorize the take of small numbers of marine mammals through harassment incidental to Shell's conducting open-water offshore exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska.
The rather complicated history of this IHA application is described by NMFS as follows:
"On February 24, 2008, SOI submitted to NMFS a revision to its
October 19, 2007, IHA application to take small numbers of marine
mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting open-water offshore
exploratory drilling on Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil lease blocks
in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska for a 1-year period in 2008 and 2009. As
issuance of an IHA is limited to one-year, NMFS anticipates that SOI
would submit a new IHA application for this activity to carry its
program through to the end of the 2009 open-water season.
NMFS notes that SOI's original IHA application(October 19, 2007)
was for the incidental taking of marine mammals, by Level B behavioral
harassment, while conducting a two-ship drilling program and a
geotechnical program. A description of SOI's original work plan can be
found in NMFS' proposed 2007 IHA application notice by SOI (72 FR
17864, April 10, 2007) and is not repeated here. A copy of the October
19, 2007, IHA application is available upon request and a copy of the
revised application is available on line or upon request...."
Shell intends to use fixed-wing aircraft for marine mammal surveillance over-flights.
Click here to read NMFS notice of Shell IHA