Buccaneer Energy’s jack-up rig Endeavor is currently operating in Cook Inlet’s Southern Cross Unit after spending much of the summer season drilling offshore from Anchor Point. But when the snow starts to fly and the ice begins to form, the rig will be looking for a winter home.
Homer City Manager Walt Wrede told members of the Homer City Council Monday night that it’s quite possible the Endeavor jack-rig may spend the winter in Homer, as it did last year. He says Buccaneer Energy is in the process of obtaining the necessary permits to winter the Endeavor rig at the Homer Deepwater Dock.
"It's really the safest place for that rig to be," said Wrede. "I really think that maintaining this rig is in the best interest of safety for Cook Inlet. We have the facilities here to maintain the rig and I think it's the safest place for it to be."
While the Endeavor rig received several repairs and equipment upgrades during its stay last winter, many local workers were employed at the dock.
The rig’s stay was not without problems however. Many Homer residents vocally complained to the city that the rig was interfering with their view of Kachemak Bay and possibly violating the state’s rules regarding the Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area. The rig also damaged part of the Deepwater Dock during a severe storm last September, during which the crew was forced to lower its 410-foot legs down to the sea floor.
Buccaneer also had financial issues during the Endeavor’s stay in Homer. The company was admonished by city leaders in December when it became six weeks behind in its payments. Also in December, about 50 workers walked off the job, complaining that they had not been paid by Buccaneer.
Those financial issues were eventually resolved and, at a rate of $40,000 a month just for using the space at the Deepwater Dock, the presence of the Endeavor is certainly a boon to city coffers. That’s something that Homer Mayor Beth Wythe was quick to point out to council members Monday night.
"I know it's a contentious issue for the community but I know ... we did hear from quite a few people about the economic benefits of having them in the city," said Wythe.
Christina Anderson is Buccaneer’s stakeholder relations manager for Alaska. In a public meeting in Homer earlier this month, Anderson said that Buccaneer had not yet made a final decision on where the Endeavor rig would spend the winter.
Homer Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins says an in-depth report on the economic benefit of the Endeavor rig – including money paid to Homer through property taxes – was commissioned to the Anchorage analytics firm Northern Economics but the report has not yet been completed.
Wrede says most of the money collected from the Endeavor rig through property taxes went into the city’s Permanent Fund and the rest went to the Homer Foundation. He also said Monday night that Furie Operating Alaska has also inquired about possibly wintering its jack-up rig – the Spartan 151 – in Homer this winter. That rig spent last winter near Port Graham.