Italian company submits plan to drill for oil in the Arctic

Melting ice of the Beaufort Sea near where Eni hopes to drill for oil. (Photo courtesy NOAA)

Italian energy company Eni this month submitted an exploration plan to drill for oil in federal waters in the Beaufort Sea.

Last November, the Obama administration removed the Arctic Ocean from new oil and gas leasing for five years, but Eni secured its leases before that decision was made.

The company currently holds 75 leases in federal waters in Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, according to its website.

Eni has already built a man-made gravel island four miles offshore in state waters. Drilling would extend from the island into federal waters.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is reviewing the exploration plan. If the federal agency deems the plan complete, it will begin a 30-day comment period before approving it.

Texas company Hilcorp is also moving through the regulatory process to drill for oil in federal Arctic waters from a gravel island it aims to build six miles offshore in the Beaufort Sea. The company says it could ultimately produce about 60,000 barrels of oil per day.

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