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Florida - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the State of Florida.

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SAJ-2019-02583 (SP-TLW)

Published Oct. 7, 2019
Expiration date: 11/7/2019

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) as described below:

APPLICANT:  Spooner Petroleum Company                                                                                                                                                                              ATTN: Mr. Michal Spooner                                                                                                                                                                                                            625 Highland Colony Parkway Suite 101                                                                                                                                                                       Ridgeland, Mississippi 39157

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect Waters of the United States associated with Petticamp Swamp. The project site is located north of Kemp Cemetery Road in Section 34, township 3 South, Range 11 West, Gulf County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: From Panama City traveling east on Highway 98, turn left onto Highway 22 heading east towards Wewahitchka and turn left on Kemp Cemetery Road. The site is located approximately five miles from Kemp Cemetery road.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:    Latitude: 30.17477°                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                           Longitude: – 85.33187°

PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic:  Oil exploration infrastructure.

Overall: To construct a well pad for exploratory oil drilling in Gulf County, Florida.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site consists of a 4.79-acre parcel comprised primarily of silviculture and associated surface water management features including an access road and ditch supporting the surrounding silviculture operations. The project parcel contains 1.98-acres of upland coniferous plantation, 0.04-acres of man-made ditch, 2.72-acres of hydric coniferous plantation, and 0.05 acres of unimproved road associated with the silviculture operation. The uplands are dominated by planted slash pine (Pinus elliottii), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), wire grass (Aristida stricta), and tailed bracken (Pteridium aquilinum).  The vegetation within the wetland portion of the site also includes planted slash pine, as well as,sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), gallberry (Ilex glabra), coastal sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), titi (Cyrilla monophylla),. The vegetation surrounding the project area is consistent with that found within the project area.

PROPOSED WORK: The proposed project consists of the construction of a 4.79-acre exploratory well pad facility utilizing a compacted No. 57 stone installed on top of 12” of cement stabilized base material.  The proposed project would impact a total of 2.72 acres of jurisdictional Waters of the U.S. including 0.04 acres of man-made ditches.

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The applicant has provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment:

The location of the oil deposit is the limiting factor regarding the well pad site location. The prospect is located in a paleogeographic position similar to that of Little Cedar Creek and Brooklyn Fields in Alabama. These two fields have produced 21.4 million barrels of oil (MMBO) plus 31.2 BCF, and 21.7 MMBO plus 29.6 billion cubic feet (BCF) respectively to date. Fishpond Field located just south of Brooklyn Field has produced 1.9 BCF and 1.6 MMBO to date on a small reef buildup. The prospect paleogeographic position is a prime location for the development of Thrombolite and Oolite porosity in the Smackover Formation similar to that of the aforementioned fields. That is, porosity development in both Oolite and Thrombolites adjacent to the Smackover paleo shoreline. The Hunt International Paper Company 30-4 well drilled 3 miles to the southwest of the prospect in October 1974, indeed encountered both porosity types in the Smackover section. Smackover production was also encountered 120 miles further west of the prospect location at Jay Field, also in the Florida Panhandle. This field has produced almost 500 MMBO and 600 BCF from the Smackover over a 13,000-acre feature.

Based on the oil deposit location there are no practicable alternative locations to access the deposit.  The applicant has sited the well pad partially over uplands and is utilizing directional drilling to minimize impacts to WOTUS.       

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:

The applicant provided a Uniform Mitigation Assessment Methodology (UMAM) analysis for the project.  To compensate for the functional loss of 2.14 UMAM units incurred from wetland impacts, the client will purchase forested wetland mitigation credits from the Sweetwater Mitigation Bank.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps has received correspondence from the Florida Division of Historical Resources stating that based on information provided by the applicant’s cultural resources assessment survey, the project will have no effect on historic properties listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places, or otherwise of historical, architectural or archaeological value.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: Per the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key and an on-site suitable habitat evaluation, the Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the federally threatened Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). The Corps has also determined the project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the federally endangered red cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) due to the lack of suitable nesting and foraging habitat. The project is not located within a Core Foraging Area for the federally threatened wood stork (Mycteria americana) and therefore the Corps determined there will be no effect for the wood stork. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

NOTE: This public notice is being issued based on information furnished by the applicant. This information has not been verified or evaluated to ensure compliance with laws and regulation governing the regulatory program.

AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or one of the state Water Management Districts.

COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Panama City Permits Section, Attention: Tracey Wheeler 415 Richard Jackson Boulevard, Suite 411, Panama City Beach, Florida 32407 within 30 days from the date of this notice.

The decision whether to issue or deny this permit application will be based on the information received from this public notice and the evaluation of the probable impact to the associated wetlands. This is based on an analysis of the applicant's avoidance and minimization efforts for the project, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.

QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Ms. Tracey Wheeler, in writing at the Panama City Permits Section, 415 Richard Jackson Boulevard, Suite 411, Panama City Beach, Florida 32405; by electronic mail at Tracey.L.Wheeler@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (850) 287-0138.

IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Marine Fisheries Services, and other Federal, State, and local agencies, environmental groups, and concerned citizens generally yields pertinent environmental information that is instrumental in determining the impact the proposed action will have on the natural resources of the area.

EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including cumulative impacts thereof; among these are conservation, economics, esthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food, and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people. Evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will also include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, EPA, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

The Corps is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other Interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this determination, comments are used to assess impacts to endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.

COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan. In Puerto Rico, a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Concurrence is required from the Puerto Rico Planning Board. In the Virgin Islands, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources permit constitutes compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Plan.

REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer within the designated comment period of the notice and must state the specific reasons for requesting the public hearing.