Eni US pays $113K penalty for environmental violations

An Italian-based oil field company with several U.S. operations has paid a $113,000 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) penalty for failure to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements of its Spy Island Drill Site, a man-made island in the Beaufort Sea some 40 miles north of Prudhoe Bay.

Under the permits Eni US Operating company received from the Interior Department in 2017 for exploration at Spy Island, Eni is required to comply with an EPA-issued Underground Injection Control (UIC) permit that sets strict conditions for operation of underground injection wells for disposal of non-hazardous waste such as drilling muds. They comprise a common waste stream that may contain salts, heavy metals, petroleum residue, and other compounds that may present negative impacts to aquifers.

Eni’s UIC permit also includes specific actions operations must take if a failure occurs.

For example, injection cannot occur if a well is unable to demonstrate ‘mechanical integrity,’ a term which refers to the proper construction and operations of well components to ensure injected fluids do not migrate outside of the approved injection zone. 

Upon discovery of failure of mechanical components, fluid injection must stop and may not commence until the integrity is returned to the well and injection is once again approved by EPA.

The EPA said continued injection during loss of mechanical integrity creates a higher risk of injection fluids migrating to shallow aquifers or the surface, presenting risk of contamination and possible health and safety concern for workers. In this case, the EPA said, Eni’s violations created potential risk to the fragile Beaufort Sea ecosystem.


EPA and Eni Operating Company resolved the matter with a consent agreement and final order which included the $113,000 penalty, and alleged violations including unauthorized injection during loss of mechanical integrity, injection pressures allowed to exceed allowable limits, and failure to continuing to monitor injection rates, maintain continuous monitoring device and properly maintain the facility.

Eni, headquartered in Rome, offers exploration, production, refining, and sale of fuel products worldwide.