Greenfield Offshore Energy Report: Key Political & Regulatory Actions Affecting Offshore Energy Development

HBW Resources: Greenfield Offshore Energy Report

Below is a summary of publicly available activities currently underway that could affect the development of offshore oil and gas resources.

Comments Sought On ICR Renewal For Certain New Offshore O&G Facilities

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it is seeking comments on its intention to seek Office of Management review and approval of a request to renew an existing information collection from new offshore oil and gas extraction facilities that use a cooling water intake
structure(s) that (1) uses at least 25 percent of the water it withdraws for cooling purposes, and (2) has a design intake flow greater than two (2) million gallons per day.

EPA notes that under the Clean Water Act, the location, design, construction and capacity of cooling water intake structure(s) at such facilities must reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact.

EPA estimates that the information collection would result in an average annual burden of 56,755 hours total for an average of 55 facilities.  This is an increase of 67% from the previous annual burden, which EPA attributes nearly 98% of that increase to a rise in the number of facilities performing recurring activities.  EPA attributes the remainder of the increase to the continuous shift from the approval period to the permit implementation and renewal period.  Total annual costs resulting from the collection are estimated to be $3,754,793, including $2,795,603 in labor costs and $959,190 for capital investment or maintenance and operational costs.

Comments are sought on whether the proposed information collection is necessary, the accuracy of the burden estimates, ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected, and ways to minimize the burden on respondents.

Comments are due by Monday, November 18, 2013.

Permit Modification Request References Oil and Gas Activity

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service has announced that it has received a request for amodification of scientific research permit issued in 2011 to Dr. Blair Witherington of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Among other things, the modification request notes the following:

·         The Gulf of Mexico off Florida serves as important foraging habitat for loggerhead sea turtles, and resident loggerheads are likely foraging among mesophotic reef habitats on the West Florida Shelf…[t]urtles in these habitats are exposed to a wide variety of threats related to anthropogenic activities such as demersal longline fishing, oil exploration and extraction, persistent marine debris, and vessel strikes.
·         The proposed study would provide information on loggerhead sea turtles in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that would guide management decisions concerning reduction of anthropogenic threats. Principal threats demonstrated for these sea turtles include effects from petroleum…, incidental catch by demersal long-line fisheries…, and mortality from vessel strikes…and entanglement.
·         The proposed study targets areas of the West Florida Shelf having such potential threats to loggerheads as: bottom long-line fisheries, shrimp trawling, offshore aquaculture, alternative energy production, offshore oil and natural gas platform development, and commercial vessel traffic
·         Project benefits would include habitat mapping, which would better inform decisions about potentially disruptive activities such as alternative energy and fossil fuel development, Sargassum harvest, and military maneuvers. The work would also guide response/rescue of pelagic sea turtles following oil spills.
·         Conservation benefits would include sea turtle resource mapping, which would better inform management decisions about potentially disruptive activities such as oceanic alternative energy development, Sargassum harvest, military maneuvers, and oil and gas exploration/extraction. The work would also guide rescue of pelagic sea turtles during oil spill response efforts.
·         Project objectives include a description of the oceanographic factors correlated with the formation, persistence, movement, and degeneration of surface-pelagic turtle habitats, and with the potential concentration of hazards such as plastics and petroleum, as well as the recommendation of response/rescue protocols for surface pelagic turtles affected by oil spills.
·         Project research objectives address several recovery actions common to sea turtle recovery plans, including ensuring oil and gas exploration and development activities do not negatively affect foraging, breeding or interesting habitat, monitoring and reducing impacts from oil/gas activities, assessing the effects of oil and gas activities on oceanic habitats used by loggerheads, and identifying and designating marine protected areas

Comments are due by Friday, October 18, 2013.

Wicker Introduces Deepwater Horizon-related Tax Relief Legislation

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) recently introduced S. 1506 (“Gulf Coast Oil Recovery Zone Tax Relief and Economic Recovery Act”).  Co-sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), the legislation would provide tax relief for individuals affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Specifically, the IRS would be prohibited from counting as income DWH spill-related insurance or Oil Pollution Act payments or proceeds that are invested in start-up expenditures or tangible property for commercial or charter fishing businesses and hotel, lodging, recreation, entertainment, and restaurant businesses that are located in 8 counties in Florida, 3 counties in Mississippi, 2 counties in Alabama, and 11 parishes in Louisiana.  Such investments must be made within 5 years of the later of receipt of the payment or the bill’s enactment.

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

NMFS Extends ESA Coral Rulemaking By 6 Months 

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service has announced a 6-month extension of the deadline for a final determination on whether to implement its December 2012 proposal to list 66 coral species as endangered (5 in Caribbean and 7 in Pacific) or threatened (2 in Caribbean and 52 in Pacific) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to reclassify two currently listed threatened Caribbean coral species as endangered.

In seeking additional data, NMFS says that the extension is necessary because comments received reflect “substantial disagreement” about the sufficiency and accuracy of the data and analyses related to the proposed listing determinations.  The agency seeks additional data from scientists identified by public commenters and others “who, in our judgment, may have additional data to assist in resolving the substantial disagreement.”  The data collection effort will conclude by October 1, 2013, and NMFS solicitations and relevant information that it receives will be posted online by November 1, 2013.

NFMS adds that the extra time to evaluate and assess the best available scientific and commercial data “would better inform” its final determination, which is required by June 7, 2014.

Center for Biological Diversity Oceans Director Miyoko Sakashita has said that “[t]he most powerful tool in the ESA is that you can’t have federal actions that could jeopardize a listed species,” and that “this could address a whole range of human activities affecting corals, from overfishing … to major greenhouse gas-emitting projects…”

NMFS Says ESA Protection For Alabama Shad May Be Warranted

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service has announced its 90-day finding that substantial scientific or commercial information indicates that it may be warranted to institute a petitioned action to list Alabama shad as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to designate critical habitat.  The Alabama shad, which was added to the agency’s Candidate Species List in 1997, and has been included on the Species of Concern list since 2004, spawns in medium to large flowing rivers from the Mississippi River drainage to Florida’s Suwannee River.

NMFS will now commence a comprehensive status review to determine whether a listing is warranted, and specifically seeks information and supporting documentation on the following with regard to the status of the Alabama shad throughout its range:

·         Historical and current distribution and abundance, including data addressing presence or absence at a riverine scale
·         Historical and current population sizes and trends
·         Biological information (life history, genetics, population connectivity, etc.)
·         Landings and trade data
·         Management, regulatory, and enforcement information
·         Any current or planned activities that may adversely impact the species
·         Ongoing or planned efforts to protect and restore the species and their habitats

Scientific and commercial information must be received by Monday, November 18, 2013.

Advisory Committee To National Ocean Council Announces Public Meeting

The U.S. Navy on Wednesday announced that the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP) will hold an open meeting in Arlington, VA from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EST on Monday, October 7, 2013.  ORAP in part provides advice to the National Ocean Council on policies, procedures, and other responsibilities related to the National Ocean Policy, and is currently the only formal advisory committee to the National Ocean Council.

ORAP is currently preparing three reports that were requested by the National Ocean Council regarding balancing ocean infrastructure with ocean research, leveraging ocean education opportunities, and implementing ecosystem-based management.

The announcement notes generally that the meeting will include discussions on ocean research, resource management, and other current issues in the ocean science and management communities.

During ORAP’s August meeting, it was noted that the reports on ecosystem-based management and leveraging ocean education opportunities were expected to be place on the October meeting agenda for discussion and approval.

MARAD Seeks Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council Nominees

The Maritime Administration has announced that it is seeking applicants for 9 membership positions on the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council (Council).

Individuals with experience in one or more of the following marine transportation industry sectors are encouraged to apply: ports and terminal operators, shippers, vessel operators, non-marine transportation providers, metropolitan planning organizations and state DOTs, shipbuilders, labor and workforce development, and academia.

The Council is tasked with providing advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation through the Maritime Administrator regarding obstacles to the effective use and expansion of America’s marine highways, waterways and ports (and their intermodal, road, rail, and marine highway connections), shipbuilding capacity, and guidelines for the development of a national freight policy from a marine transportation perspective.  Members serve 2-year terms.

The Council typically meets two-three times per fiscal year, while the Council’s subcommittees may hold meetings and teleconferences more frequently.

Applications are due by Friday, October 18, 2013.

National Science Foundation Advisory Committee To Hold Public Meeting

The National Science Foundation, a member of the National Ocean Councilannounced on Monday that its Geosciences Advisory Committee will hold a public meeting in Arlington, VA on October 9-10, 2013.

According to the announcement, the purpose of the meeting is to provide advice, recommendations, and oversight on support for geoscience research and education, including atmospheric, geo-space, earth, ocean, and polar sciences.

Agenda items include a meeting with the Acting Director, Directorate and National Science Foundation activities and plans, topical subcommittees on education/diversity, facilities, research, and cybersecurity, Committee of Visitor reports, discussion of National Science Foundation programs, Division Subcommittee meetings, and action items/planning for Fall meeting.

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
E-mail: bgreenfield@hbwresources.com
Web: http://www.hbwresources.com

If you have any general questions, please give me a call anytime. Previous reports and other updates can be found at the new HBW Resources Intelligence Tab at: https://hbwresources.com/intelligence/.   Hope you have a great day.

Thanks,

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