HBW Resources Offshore Energy Report

HBW Resources Offshore Energy Report

Below is a summary of publicly available activities currently underway that could affect the development of offshore oil and gas resources.  The report was prepared by Brent Greenfield, HBW Resources’ Director of Ocean Policy and Regulatory Affairs. If you would like additional information or have any questions, please give us a call at 202-429-6081 or e-mail me directly at mzehr@hbwresources.com.  We hope this information is useful to you.

BSEE Director Talks About Safety, Tours MWCC Facility

During speeches at the 2014 National Ocean Industries Association Annual Meeting and Second Annual Center for Offshore Safety ForumBureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Brian Salerno earlier this month discussed the importance of fostering a culture of safety among everyone involved in offshore operations.

During his remarks at the NOIA annual meeting, Salerno provided a regulatory update in which he stated that publication of proposed preventer and Arctic-specific rules are expected “in the coming months.”  He added that BSEE is working to build greater reliance on performance-based criteria into their rules and that the agency would be very interested in industry comments on that subject when new proposed regulations are issued.

Salerno also acknowledged uncertainty as to the meaning of Best Available and Safest Technology (BAST) and its impacts on industry and capital investment.  Calling BAST “a term in search of a definition,” he said that language in the proposed production safety system rule is really a “placeholder” based on previous legislative language.  Salerno noted ongoing efforts to develop a working understanding on how to approach BAST, with the intent to be “very transparent” and “very open” to input on how to define BAST concepts and process.

BSEE also announced that Director Salerno and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) officials toured Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC) facilities in Ingleside, Texas following his appearance at the Center for Offshore Safety Forum.  Joined by USCG Rear Admirals Joseph Servidio and Kevin Cook, Salerno viewed the MWCC well containment equipment and talked about containment procedures and capabilities with MWCC staff.

Marine Mammal Commission to Discuss Offshore Energy

The Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) recently announced that the Commission and itsCommittee of Scientific Advisors on Marine Mammals will hold a public meeting in Washington, DC on May 6-8, 2014.  The latest draft agenda is available here.  In advance of the public meeting, the Commission and the Committee will meet in executive session on May 5.

The public meeting will include a focus on partnerships and prioritization to address “growing challenges” in ensuring healthy marine mammal populations and ecosystems, and will feature the following five themed sessions: offshore energy development, the changing Arctic, marine mammal health and stranding, impacts on marine mammals from fishing, and recovery of marine mammal stocks: next steps.

BOEM Announces Availability of Environmental Study Results

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has announced the uploading of 37 reports/technical summaries to the Environmental Studies Program Information System.

Topics covered in the reports address items including the following:

  • Effects of Noise on Fish, Fisheries, and Invertebrates in the U.S. Atlantic and Arctic from Energy Industry Sound-Generating Activities;
  • Deepwater Coral Distribution and Abundance on Active Offshore Oil and Gas Platforms and Decommissioned “Rigs-To-Reefs” Platforms
  • Corals on Oil and Gas Platforms Near the Flower Garden Banks
  • Long-Term Monitoring at the East and West Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary;
  • Determining the Geographical Distribution and Genetic Affinities of Corals on Offshore Platforms, Northern Gulf of Mexico;
  • Updates to the Fault Tree for Oil-Spill Occurrence Estimators Needed Under the Forthcoming 2012-2017, 5-Year Program; and
  • Archaeological Analysis of Submerged Sites on the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf;

USCG Proposes Safety Zones Around Four Chevron Deepwater GOM Facilities

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) recently announced its proposal to establish safety zones around four Chevron facilities located in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (Walker Ridge Block 718Viosca Knoll Block 786Mississippi Canyon Block 650, and Green Canyon Block 641).

USCG notes that the safety zones “will significantly reduce the threat of allusions, oil spills, and releases of natural gas, and thereby protect the safety of life, property, and the environment.”  Comments are due by Friday, May 9, 2014.

Requested by Chevron, the safety zone extends 500 meters out from (1) each point on the structure’s outermost edge.  Entry inside these areas is limited to attending vessels, vessels < 100 feet in length and not engaged in towing, and vessels authorized by the Commander of the 8thCoast Guard District (or a designative representative).

NOAA Announces Launch of Gulf of Mexico Deep-Sea Habitat Expedition

NOAA earlier this month announced the commencement of an 18-day NOAA expedition in the Gulf of Mexico.  Led by NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer, a team of researchers has set out to explore deep-sea habitats, with the public given an opportunity to participate through a live video feed.

NOAA Office of Exploration and Research Acting Director John McDonough said in part that the information obtained during the expedition “can be used by ocean resource managers, coastal communities, offshore industries and others to inform decisions about how best to manage, use and protect the ocean and its resources.”  McDonough added that the Gulf of Mexico “is our backyard, yet there is a great deal we still need to learn about its sea floor, sea life and maritime heritage.”

The project will involve the use of remotely-operated vehicles to explore areas including salt domes, gas seeps, canyons, shipwrecks, and marine life (including deep-sea coral habitats).

In stating that scientists will be expected to investigate shipwrecks to determine if they might be significant national maritime heritage sites, NOAA notes “require not only study, but protection in partnership with industry and other federal partners.”

Comments Sought on Platform/Structure-Related ICR Renewal

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) hasannounced that it is seeking comments on request for Office of Management and Budget approval to renew an information collection pertaining to (1) general platform requirements; (2) Platform Verification Program; (3) platform inspection, maintenance, and assessment; and (4) general departure.

Comments are due by Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

USCG Replaces Interim Guidance for Nontank Vessel Response Plans with Regulation

The U.S. Coast Guard has announced the cancelation of Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular No. 01-05, Change-1 (“Interim Guidance for the Development and Review of Response Plans for Nontank Vessels”), and its replacement with the nontank vessel response plan final rule issued in September 2013.

The announcement notes that existing plans developed consistent with the Interim Guidance may not meet the requirements under the final rule issued last year, and may thereby require the vessel owner/operator to revise its response plan accordingly.

The final rule requires the owners or operators of nontank vessels to prepare and submit oil spill response plans.  “Nontank vessels” are self-propelled vessels of 400 gross tons or greater that operate on the navigable waters of the United States, carry oil of any kind as fuel for main propulsion, and are not tank vessels.

Comments Sought on ICR for Vessels Carrying Oil in Bulk 

The U.S. Coast Guard has announced that it is seeking comments on its intention to seek Office of Management and Budget approval to revise an information collection pertaining to the plan approval and records for U.S. and foreign tank vessels carrying oil in bulk.

Comments are due by Friday, June 6, 2014.

Comment Period Extended on Proposed IHA for Sediment-related Seismic Survey Offshore NJ 

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has announced its decision to extend by 30 days the comment period on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization to theLamont Doherty Earth Observatory to take 26 species of marine mammals by Level B harassment while conducting a seismic survey offshore New Jersey.  Originally due on Wednesday, April 16, comments are now due by Friday, May 16, 2014.

The purpose of the survey is to collect and analyze data on the arrangement of sediments deposited during times of changing global sea level from roughly 60 million years ago to present.

As a basis for its decision to extend the comment period, NMFS cited a Clean Ocean Actionextension request to aid in their review of the proposed IHA.

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 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