Arctic Lease Sales, OCS Legislation, & Rigs to Reefs Program See Activity

HBW Resources: Greenfield Offshore Energy Report

Below is a summary of publicly available activities currently underway at the federal, state and international levels that could impact the development of offshore oil and gas resources.  With numerous legislative bodies now in session, HBW Resources is monitoring these activities to ensure that responsible policies based on sound science are advanced.

U.S. House Passes Offshore Energy and Jobs Act

In a 235-186 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives recently approved H.R. 2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, which would expand U.S. offshore oil and gas production in part by requiring lease sales offshore Virginia, South Carolina, and Southern California, expand revenue-sharing to states outside the Gulf of Mexico with energy production in adjacent federal waters, and codify organizational reforms at the Interior Department’s offshore agencies.

The legislation would also establish an Ocean Energy Enforcement Fund and inspection fees and collection requirements, and extend applicability of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf adjacent to any territory of the United States.

U.S. House Passes Offshore Transboundary Agreements Act

In a 256-171 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives recently approved H.R. 1613, the Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act, which would authorize the Interior Secretary to implement the terms of any transboundary hydrocarbon agreement for the management of transboundary hydrocarbon reservoirs entered into by the President and approved by Congress.

The legislation also does the following:

·         Approves and authorizes implementation of the Agreement between the United States of America and the United Mexican States Concerning Transboundary Hydrocarbon Reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico (signed in Los Cabos on February 20, 2012);
·         Prescribes procedures governing the submission of transboundary hydrocarbon agreements to Congress (including content required to be included in the submission);
·         Exempts the applicability of SEC reporting requirements to resource extraction carried out in accordance with a transboundary agreement; and
·         Precludes the legislation from being interpreted to authorize the Interior Secretary to participate in negotiations, conferences, or consultations with Cuba regarding hydrocarbon exploration, development, or production in the Gulf of Mexico along the maritime border with Cuba.

Senior Interior Official Discusses Future Potential Arctic Lease Sales

EnergyWire recently reported on comments made by then-Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes at a Platts Energy Podium news conference where he announced that the Interior Department (DOI) will soon seek public assistance on the identification of regions in the Alaskan Arctic that contain the most promising oil and gas resources and those regions that are ecologically fragile and important to Native communities.

Hayes said that the information will be solicited as DOI considers whether to hold additional oil and gas lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.  EnergyWire reports that Hayes “said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is likely to consider leasing in offshore Arctic areas that are attractive to energy developers but that trigger little or no resistance from Native subsistence groups and environmentalists.”

BSEE Unveils Revised “Rigs To Reefs” Policy

The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) recently announced the availability of a revised internal policy for evaluating proposals to convert obsolete offshore oil and gas production platforms into artificial reefs.

Among other things, the revised policy removes the requirement for a 5-miles buffer zone between designated reefing areas, removes certain restrictions to reefing in place, allows for regulatory decommissioning deadline extensions for facilities that companies are actively pursuing acceptance into a state program, and removes storm-toppled platforms from consideration.

Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Issues Priorities For Administration & Congress

The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative recently announced the release of a new report titled “Charting the Course: Securing the Future of America’s Oceans,” which urges implementation of 11 recommendations in furtherance of the following four actions:

Enhance the resiliency of coastal communities and ocean ecosystems to dramatic changes underway in our oceans and on our coasts;

  • Promote ocean renewable energy development and reinvest in our oceans;
  • Support state and regional ocean and coastal priorities; and
  • Improve Arctic research and management


Among other things, the report calls on Congress to establish by a dedicated ocean investment fund “to invest a modest portion of the revenues from offshore commercial energy activities to provide the financial support for national, regional, state, and local programs working to understand and manage our ocean and coastal resources.”

The report adds that “[i]f Congress pursues legislation to share revenue from offshore energy leasing and development, a reasonable portion of these funds should be dedicated to improving ocean and coastal science, management, and ecosystem restoration at the federal, regional, state, and local levels.”

Interior Announces North Slope Science Initiative Advisory Panel Vacancies

The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management recently announced that it is seeking nominations for 6 seats on the North Slope Science Initiative’s (NSSI) Science Technical Advisory Panel (STAP).

STAP is tasked with advising the NSSI Oversight Group on issues such as identifying and prioritizing inventory, monitoring and research needs, and providing other scientific information as requested by the Oversight Group.  The Oversight Group provides direction regarding priorities for decisions needed for the management of resources on the North Slope of Alaska and the adjacent marine environment.

STAP members are selected from disciplines including North Slope traditional and local knowledge, landscape ecology, petroleum engineering, civil engineering, geology, sociology, cultural anthropology, economics, ornithology, oceanography, fisheries, marine biology, landscape ecology, and climatology.  Members will be appointed for 3-year terms and must have at least 5 years of work experience in the Arctic in their field of expertise.  Nominations are due by Friday, July 26.

Comments Sought On Proposed Revision Of Electrical Equipment Regulations

The U.S. Coast Guard recently announced that it is seeking comments on its proposal to amend its regulations to:

(1) Require third party testing and certification of electrical equipment in hazardous locations located on foreign MODUs, floating facilities, and vessels that engage in OCS activities for the first time after the effective date of the regulations, as well as newly constructed U.S. MODUs, floating facilities, and vessels other than offshore supply vessels;
(2) Expand the list of national and international explosion protection standards deemed acceptable;
(3) Add the International Electrotechnical Commission System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres as an accepted method of testing and certifying electrical equipment intended for use in hazardous locations; and
(3) Provide owners and operators of existing U.S. Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs), floating Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) facilities, vessels other than offshore supply vessels that engage in OCS activities, and U.S. tank vessels that carry flammable or combustible cargoes the option of choosing between the compliance regime contained in the existing and proposed regulations; and
(4) Provide U.S. and foreign MODUs, floating OCS facilities, vessels other than offshore supply vessels that engage in OCS activities, and U.S. tank vessels carrying flammable and combustible cargoes to comply with either of two hazardous locations classification systems found in the National Fire Protection Association 70

The Coast Guard notes that the proposed regulations would not apply to U.S. offshore supply vessels, which are already subject to hazardous location requirements, but adds that such vessels “may be the subject of a separate, future rulemaking.”

Comments on the Coast Guard proposal are due by Monday, September 23, 2013.

NOAA Science Advisory Board Announces Public Meeting

NOAA’s Office of Atmospheric Research has announced that the agency’s Science Advisory Board(SAB) will hold a public conference call on Tuesday, July 23 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.mEST and onWednesday, July 24 from 1:00 to 4:05 p.m. EST.

According to the announcement, the meeting will include a 10-minute public comment period and discussion on the following topics:

·         Arctic Policy and Management
·         Arctic Science
·         Terms of Reference and Membership Approach for Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science Program Advisory Working Group
·         NOAA Response to the SAB Review of the Ocean Exploration and Research Program
·         Climate Working Group- Proposed Change in Terms of Reference and Working Group Update
·         Ecosystem Sciences and Management Working Group-Proposed New Member and Working Group Update
·         NOAA Social Science Needs Assessment
·         National Academy of Public Administration Report: Forecasting the Future-Assuring the Capacity of the National Weather Service
·         Environmental Information Services Working Group-Membership and Working Group Update
·          Updates from Data Archive and Access Requirements and Ocean Exploration Advisory Working Groups

Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee To Hold Public Meeting

The Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy has announced that the Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee will hold a public meeting in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, July 16, 2013.

According to the announcement, the meeting will include discussion of the Committee’s comments on the Draft Methane Hydrate Roadmap, Committee recommendations, and public comments if any.

The Committee, which was established pursuant to the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000 and meets biennially, is tasked with advising the Energy Secretary on potential applications of methane hydrate, assisting with the development of recommendations and priorities for the methane hydrate R&D program, and submitting to Congress one or more reports on an assessment of the research program and the DOE 5-year research plan.

Additional Information

For additional information, contact Brent Greenfield with HBW Resources. His contact information is below.

Brent Greenfield
HBW Resources
2211 Norfolk Street, #410
Houston, TX 77098
Tel: 713-337-8810

If you have any general questions, please give me a call anytime. Previous reports, updates and Member profiles can be reviewed at the HBW Resources Intelligence Tab at:   Hope you have a great week.


Michael Zehr
HBW Resources
1666 K Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
Direct: 202-429-6081
Cell: 202-277-3927
Twitter: @mzehrhbw