The future of BPís offshore oil operations in
the Gulf of Mexico has been thrown into doubt by
the recent drilling disaster and legal wrangling
over a moratorium.
But about three miles off the coast of Alaska,
BP is moving ahead with a controversial and
potentially record-setting project to drill two
miles under the sea and then six to eight miles
horizontally to reach what is believed to be a
100-million-barrel reservoir of oil under
All other new projects in the Arctic have been
halted by the Obama administrationís moratorium
on offshore drilling, including more traditional
projects like Shell Oilís plans to drill three
wells in the Chukchi Sea and two in the Beaufort
However, BPís project, called Liberty, has been
exempted by federal regulators. BP has been
granted status as an "onshore" project. This,
even though it is about three miles off the
coast in the Beaufort Sea.
The reason for the exemption is that it sits on
an artificial island. An artificial island --
that is actually a 31-acre pile of gravel in
about 22 feet of water -- built by BP.