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Notice

Marine Mammals; Letters of Authorization To Take Pacific Walrus and Polar Bears in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Alaska

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Notice of issuance.

SUMMARY:

In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued Letters of Authorization for the nonlethal take of polar bears and Pacific walruses incidental to oil and gas industry exploration, development, and production activities in the Beaufort Sea and the adjacent northern coast of Alaska and incidental to oil and gas industry exploration activities in the Chukchi Sea and the adjacent western coast of Alaska. These Letters of Authorization stipulate conditions and methods that minimize impacts to polar bears and Pacific walruses from these activities.

ADDRESSES:

These letters of authorization are available electronically at the following location: http://www.fws.gov/​alaska/​fisheries/​mmm/​itr.htm.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Christopher Putnam at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management Office, 1011 East Tudor Road, MS 341, Anchorage, Alaska 99503; (800) 362-5148 or (907) 786-3844.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On August 5, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published in the Federal Register a final rule (81 FR 52276) establishing regulations that allow us to authorize the nonlethal, incidental, unintentional take of small numbers of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) during year-round oil and gas industry exploration, development, and production activities in the Beaufort Sea and adjacent northern coast of Alaska. The rule established subpart J in part 18 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and is effective through August 5, 2021. The rule prescribed a process under which we issue Letters of Authorization (LOAs) to applicants conducting activities as described under the provisions of the regulations. This rule replaced a similar rule, published on August 3, 2011 (76 FR 47010), which expired on August 3, 2016, and likewise prescribed a process under which we issued such LOAs.

Each LOA stipulates conditions or methods that are specific to the activity and location. Holders of LOAs must use methods and conduct activities in a manner that minimizes to the greatest extent practicable adverse impacts on Pacific walruses and polar bears and their habitat, and on the availability of these marine mammals for subsistence purposes. Intentional take and lethal incidental take are prohibited.

In accordance with section 101(a)(5)(A) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) and our regulations at 50 CFR part 18, subpart J, we issued LOAs to each of the following companies in the Beaufort Sea and adjacent northern coast of Alaska:

Beaufort Sea Letters of Authorization

CompanyActivityProjectLOA No.
Shell Exploration and Production Company, IncSupport servicesIce surveys and helicopter search and rescue training15-01
Brooks Range Petroleum CorporationDevelopment2015 Mustang Development Program15-02
Global Geophysical Services, IncExplorationWinter seismic work15-03
Geokinetics, IncExplorationWinter seismic work15-04
Repsol E and P USA, IncExplorationExploration drilling in the Colville River Delta15-05
BP Exploration (Alaska), IncExplorationWinter seismic work15-06
ExxonMobil Development CompanyDevelopmentPoint Thomson Project15-07, 16-06, 16-17
Hilcorp Alaska, LLCExplorationLiberty Geotech and Shallow Hazard Survey15-08
Caelus Energy Alaska, LLCDevelopmentNuna Project15-09, 16-01, 16-12, 17-06
Olgoonik Specialty Contractors, LLCRemediationPoint Lonely, Oliktok Point, and Bullen Point DEW line sites15-10
North Slope BoroughProductionBarrow pipeline upgrades15-12, 17-08
ConocoPhillips Alaska, IncExplorationGreater Moose's Tooth15-15
ARSC Exploration, LLCExplorationPlacer Unit exploratory drilling15-16
Peak Oilfield Service Company, LLCSupport servicesTransportation activities on the North Slope15-17, 17-01
SAExploration, IncExplorationAklaq seismic surveys on Canning and Sag River15-18, 16-03
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Caelus Energy Alaska, LLCExplorationTulimaniq Exploration Program in Smith Bay15-19, 16-09_a
Geokinetics, IncExploration“Great Bear” 3d seismic on North Slope15-20
Alaska Frontier Constructors, IncDevelopmentGravel removal in the Sag River15-21
ExxonMobil Alaska, LNG, LLCExplorationAlaska LNG Project surveys16-02, 16-18
Marsh Creek, LLCRemediationLegacy wells-Cape Simpson, Iko Bay, Barrow, and Avak16-04, 16-21
ENI U.S. Operating Company, IncDevelopmentNakaitchuq North at Spy Island16-05
ConocoPhillips Alaska, IncExplorationNPRA seismic exploration16-08
ConocoPhillips Alaska, IncExplorationExploration drilling16-09_b, 17-10
Fairweather, LLCExplorationRetrieval of mooring anchors in the Beaufort Sea16-10
Caelus Energy Alaska, LLCProductionOooguruk Project16-11
ConocoPhillips Alaska, IncProductionCPAI North Slope Alpine and Kuparuk16-13
BP Exploration (Alaska), IncProductionPrudhoe Bay16-14
Savant Alaska, LLCProductionBadami Project16-15
Hilcorp Alaska, LLCProductionMilne Point, Endicott, and Northstar Units16-16
Olgoonik Construction Services, LLCRemediationBarrow legacy wells16-19
ConocoPhillips Alaska, IncDevelopmentGMT-1 Construction16-20, 17-09
Alyeska Pipeline Service CompanyProductionTAPS activities16-22
Armstrong Energy, LLCExplorationColville River Delta drilling and geotech16-23
BEM Systems, IncorporatedRemediationOliktok radar site17-03
BEM Systems, IncorporatedRemediationBullen Pt. radar site17-04
ConocoPhillips Alaska, IncExploration“Bear” Winter Seismic East of Colville River17-05
BP Exploration (Alaska), IncExploration2017 Liberty Bathymetry Survey17-07

On June 12, 2013, we published in the Federal Register a final rule (78 FR 35364) establishing regulations that allow us to authorize the nonlethal, incidental, unintentional take of small numbers of polar bears and Pacific walruses during year-round oil and gas industry exploration activities in the Chukchi Sea and adjacent western coast of Alaska. The rule established 50 CFR part 18 subpart I and is effective until June 11, 2018. The process under which we issue LOAs to applicants and the requirements that the holders of LOAs must follow is the same as described above for LOAs issued under 50 CFR part 18, subpart J.

In accordance with section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA and our regulations at 50 CFR 18, subpart I, we issued LOAs to the following companies in the Chukchi Sea:

Chukchi Sea Letters of Authorization

CompanyActivityProjectLOA No.
Shell Exploration and Production Company, IncSupport services2015/2016 ice overflight surveys15-CS-01
Shell Exploration and Production Company, IncExplorationChukchi Sea exploration drilling15-CS-02
Fairweather, LLCExplorationRetrieval of Shell's mooring anchors in the Chukchi Sea16-CS-01
Olgoonik Fairweather, LLCExplorationPost Shell drillsite monitoring16-CS-02
Start Authority

Authority: We issue this notice under the authority of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.).

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: January 4, 2018.

Gregory E. Siekaniec,

Regional Director, Alaska Region.

End Signature

Editorial note:

This document was received for publication by the Office of the Federal Register on April 23, 2018.

End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2018-08759 Filed 4-25-18; 8:45 am]

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