A jack-up rig has arrived to drill offshore in Cook Inlet.
The Spartan 151 jack-up rig arrived at the offshore unit called Kitchen Lights on Wednesday, according to Escopeta Oil Co., the Houston-based independent that plans to use the rig.
"The rig is positioned over the well," Escopeta contractor Steve Sutherlin said.
The Spartan 151 is the first jack-up rig in Cook Inlet in nearly two decades.
Buccaneer Energy Ltd. is working to bring another jack-up to the Inlet next summer.
The Spartan 151 is currently undergoing technical operations work in preparation for a drilling program. Crews are preparing to jack up the rig platform, set the casing and install blowout preventer equipment.
"Once that's in place, then they'll put the bit in and start rocking and rolling," Sutherlin said, adding, "We're confident we'll spud in August."
Under deadlines from the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas, Escopeta must drill a well in the Kitchen Lights unit to the pre-Tertiary zone by Oct. 31 in order to keep its leases.
The rig officially arrived in the United States on Aug. 7, once U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspected it in Kachemak Bay and allowed it to enter U.S. waters.
The rig left the Gulf of Mexico in March, sailed around the tip of South America and spent several weeks off the coast of British Columbia because of legal and repair issues.
The arrival, though, is only the beginning. Escopeta is preparing to drill in an age when offshore drilling is under a microscope.
"I am concerned, given the short time frame to drill this season, that Escopeta conducts all operations in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. We have been monitoring all activities and been in constant contact with state and federal regulators to ensure that no corners are being cut," Mike Munger, executive director of the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council, said in a statement after the rig arrived in Alaska.
Munger said that the citizens advisory council staff participated in a two-day spill training exercise in late July involving the United States Coast Guard, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and Escopeta, and recently completed a "thorough review" of Escopeta's Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plan and submitted comments to DEC.