Buccaneer Energy’s top official commemorated the Alaska arrival of the jack up rig Endeavour as the “key” to unlock the future of Cook Inlet Tuesday morning.
“Dream no small dreams, for they lack the ability to stir man’s soul,” Chief Executive Officer Curtis Burton quoted, contending it takes bold actions to make the nation’s big dreams of an energy independent future come to reality.
Buccaneer officials traveled on the tail end of a high wind storm, which swept through Monday night, to Homer Tuesday to celebrate the jack up rig Endeavour’s arrival. The ceremonial event included a blessing by Glacier Baptist Church’s Rev. Richard Wise that called for divine protection of the rig as it begins its work in Cook Inlet in a manner that protects the environment. A glass of non-alcoholic “champaign” was then passed out to each person attending.
Remarks were brief since the event was postponed from Monday, and given the travel difficulties due to the storm that made the officials late in arriving.
“Buccaneer is evidence that we have shown up,” Burton said, noting that the Endeavour – Spirit of Independence was named by an Alaskan in a contest to find the rig’s name. It is named after Capt. James Cook’s ship that sailed up the inlet in 1778, by the winners Ed Marker and Erik Lindow of Kenai
“We share your vision of creating an energy independent state. People will say the big oil and gas companies are all about profit. We are not that big company,” Burton said, “that would pledge profits above everything. We want to make a pledge to the people of Alaska. Yes, we are here to find hydrocarbons. But profit is not a four-letter word.”
Profits make it possible to create jobs, to pay taxes and “without profits, none of this happens,” Burton said.
Cook Inletkeeper’s Bob Shavelson sent out letters to officials on Monday challenging them to monitor invasive species better. The state is part owner of the Endeavor, since the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority has invested $24 million in Buccaneer and the jack up rig.
The Department of Fish and Game’s invasive species specialist, Tammy Davis, has said that Fish and Game can’t board the Endeavour without permission but that the department will review studies.
Past studies by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have identified roughly a dozen marine invasive species in the area, Shavelson said.
“Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has done important work showing the blind eye federal agencies have turned on invasive species in oil and gas operations,” Shavelson said. “Now it’s time for the State of Alaska to stand up and protect the fisheries and habitats that support countless Alaskans. Independent testing for possible invasives on the rig should occur immediately, and the state should adopt rules to ensure this never happens again.”
Another oil and gas concern also is watching Buccaneer with an eye toward state favoritism. Oil and gas baron Danny Davis, who worked to get the Spartan 151 jack up rig to Cook Inlet last season, said the state dealt with his company in a whole other way from how it is caring for Buccaneer Energy.
“Before we even left Texas, the AOGA (Alaska Oil and Gas) flew two inspectors down to inspect the rig, top to bottom, to make sure we had no hitchhikers. Then they approved it before we shipped it,” Davis said. “I don’t think the state of Alaska is playing fair. Buccaneer didn’t go through the same process we went through. I think they played favorites with Buccaneer. Why didn’t they inspect the rig before it left Singapore?”
Davis stepped down from Escopeda after the company was slapped with a $15 million fine for violating the Jones Act. The violation was determined by Homeland Security for boarding the Spartan on a foreign-flagged lift vessel to ship to Alaska. The Jones Act requires using American shippers unless a waiver is granted. Escopeda did have an initial waiver, but it had expired by the time the Spartan was ready to be shipped.
“That’s the largest fine in American history, $15 million,” Davis said. “We had to fight with the government to get our rig there, but now it is there and it’s finding a good supply of gas.”
Now Furie Operating of Alaska is working Escopeda’s leases, but Davis said he retains a share in the holdings.
Legs lowered in storm
The Endeavour jack up rig was the cause for concern this weekend when 50 mph winds and higher gusts blew in with another big storm front. Harbor Master Bryan Hawkins said they had discussed moving it off the Deep Water Dock in fear that the dock could be damaged.
“But we didn’t move it after all. For safety purposes, it was safer to keep it there, with tugs attached,” Hawkins said. It remained cabled to three tugs, the Vigilant, the Elsbeth and the Pacific Explorer.
Buccaneer also made the decision to briefly lower the legs as an additional precaution, a move that is not supposed to occur according to rules established when Kachemak Bay was designated a critical habitat area. Buccaneer officials have not yet responded to Homer Tribune questions on this move.
Hawkins said the legs were lowered to stabilize the vessel in up to 40 foot depths, though the varying tides would determine the actual depth. “They lowered it in what is called soft-pinning, down enough to weight the legs.”
Storms are forecast to send high wind gusts and more rain into Kachemak Bay throughout the week. The Endeavour will be in Homer until electrical, welding and plumbing work is complete, which could be by the end of the week, officials estimate.
Comments are closed