BP Requests New 5-Year Take Rules for Northstar in the Beaufort
On March 17, 2010, the U. S. National Marine Fisheries Service published Federal Register notice that it has received a request from BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. for authorization for the take of marine mammals incidental to operation of offshore oil and gas facilities in the U.S. Beaufort Sea, AK, for the period April 201--April 2016. BP's request is filed pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Granting the request would require NMFS to develop and implement new 5-year regulations under the MMPA governing the incidental taking of marine mammals by BP.
NMFS requests public comment on BP's request. Comments and information must be received by NMFS no later than April 16, 2010.
BP's requested rules would authorize the take of six marine mammal species incidental to operation of the Northstar development in the Beaufort Sea, AK, over the course of 5 years. Construction of Northstar was completed in 2001. The proposed activities for 2011-2016 include a continuation of drilling, production, and emergency training operations but no construction or activities of similar intensity to those conducted between 1999 and 2001.
The likely or possible impacts of the planned offshore oil developments at Northstar on marine mammals involve both nonacoustic and acoustic effects. Potential non-acoustic effects could result from the physical presence of personnel, structures and equipment, construction or
maintenance activities, and the occurrence of oil spills. Petroleum development and associated activities in marine waters introduce sound into the environment, produced by island construction, maintenance, and drilling, as well as vehicles operating on the ice, vessels, aircraft, generators, production machinery, gas flaring, and camp operations.
BP requests authorization to take individuals of three cetacean and three pinniped species by Level B Harassment. Further, BP requests authorization to take five individual ringed seals by serious injury or mortality annually over the course of the 5-year rule.
Click here to read NMFS' Federal Register notice of BP's request