HBW Resources Greenfield Offshore Energy Report
Below is a summary of key news and events impacting the current and future development of offshore energy resources. Additionally, a summary of all current legislation pending in the US Congress is included at the following link.
Comment Period Extended For OCS Oil and Gas Production Safety Systems Rule
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has officially announced that it is extending by 45 days the comment period for its August 2013proposal to amend and update regulations regarding oil and gas production by addressing issues including safety and pollution prevention equipment (SPPE) lifecycle analysis, production safety systems, subsurface safety devices, and safety device testing.
According to BSEE, the agency received “multiple” industry requests for an extension and determined that an extension was appropriate.
Comments on the proposed rule are now due by Thursday, December 5, 2013 (they were originally due by Monday, October 21, 2013).
Researchers Say Post-Spill Deep Sea Recovery In Gulf Of Mexico May Take Decades Or Longer
In a scientific paper recently published in PLOS ONE, researchers from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, the University of Nevada-Reno, and NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science conclude that benthic effects detected during 2010 data-gathering efforts following the Deepwater Horizon spill “are more likely due to the oil spill, and not natural hydrocarbon seepage.”
The paper further concludes that “[g]iven deep-sea conditions, it is possible that recovery of deep-sea soft-bottom habitat and the associated communities in the vicinity of the DWH blowout will take decades or longer.”
In a press release issued on Tuesday, NOAA called the paper “the first to give comprehensive results of the spill’s effect on deepwater communities at the base of the Gulf’s food chain, in its softbottom muddy habitats…” It notes that the oil spill and plume covered nearly 360 square miles, with “the most severe reduction” of biological abundance and biodiversity affecting a ~9 square mile area around the wellhead and “moderate” impacts to biological abundance and biodiversity affecting a ~57 square mile area around the wellhead.
Comments Sought On Draft NPDES Stormwater Discharge Permit
EPA has announced that it is seeking comments on a draft 5-year National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit for stormwater discharges from industrial activity–including but not limited to oil and gas extraction and refining—that occur in every EPA region other than Region 4 (MI, AL, FL, GA, SC, NC, TN, KY) and are not covered under an approved state NPDES program.
Oil and gas exploration and production facilities that are industrial and are not covered by an NPDES OCS general permit will require alternative NPDES coverage for stormwater discharges if they have stormwater discharges and are not exempt (to be exempt, facility must not have had a reportable quantity discharge since Nov. 16, 1987 or have contributed to a water quality standard violation).
The announcement notes that the draft permit is similar to the existing 2008 stormwater discharge permit that applies to these activities in Regions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, and 10 and which this new permit would replace.
Eligibility is limited to new and existing dischargers (defined in Appendix A of draft permit) and new owners/operators of an existing discharger. EPA further notes that facilities that commenced discharging prior to the date of this permit’s issuance but that were not covered under the 2008 NPDES stormwater permit or another NPDES permit are also eligible.
Comments are due by Tuesday, November 26, 2013.
Gulf Of Mexico Alliance To Hold Marine Spatial Planning Meeting
The Gulf of Mexico Alliance recently announced that it will host a “Marine Planning Meeting” from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 14 at the Mississippi State Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, MS.
According to the announcement, the meeting’s objective is “[t]o understand the individual state coastal planning programs; to identify opportunities for Federal support; and to identify ways to combine efforts for efficiency and streamlining if possible.”
Topics and presenters include the following:
· “Is there a need for marine planning in the Gulf?” (Larry McKinney, Harte Research Institute),
· Overviews of the Alabama and Texas CMSP programs (Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Texas General Land Office)
· status of other state CZMA programs, efforts, and initiatives
· Roundtable discussions/Q&A
· Brief presentation of federal assistance (Bruce Cwalina, U.S. Navy; federal co-lead for Gulf of Mexico marine planning)
· Regional data compilation (GOMA portal) (Harte Research Institute)
· Opportunities to combine efforts for efficiency and streamlining (all)
· Next steps
Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body Convenes For Inaugural Meeting
Federal, state, and tribal representatives of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (RPB) recently convened their inaugural meeting in West Long Branch, New Jersey. The RPB was formally established in April 2013 and is tasked under the National Ocean Policy Executive Order with developing a coastal and marine spatial plan for Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
RPB representatives discussed their desire for, among other things, a more streamlined process for decision-making, a more resilient coast and coastal communities, preservation of military training areas, conflict prevention, a well-functioning marine transportation system, a “better” and “balanced” approach to ocean management, dialogue across “stovepipes,” compacted and streamlined regulations, a science-based approach, and information coordination.
Next steps that were identified include the following:
· Create draft vision statement, goals, example objectives, and actions for RPB consideration prior to releasing for public comment and review
· Finalize charter for RPB review by Nov. 1 and distribute for signature by Nov. 15
· Efforts to be made to further develop concept for a MARCO-brokered Stakeholder Liaison Committee as well as other mechanisms; RPB to continue a suite of proposed engagement options and explore the potential for establishing a Federal Advisory Committee in the long-term and the resources that a FACA would require
· RPB to explore potential for ex officio or ombudsman role on RPB for stakeholders
· RPB embraces use of MARCO data portal for now, but further discussions may be needed to make sure it adequately supports the RPB
· RPB to explore how Governance Coordinating Committee could play helpful role in terms of local representation
· RPB to address structure/expectations for RPB work groups
Comments Sought On Decommissioning-Related Information Collection Renewal
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) hasannounced that it is seeking comments on its request for OMB to renew an information collection request pertaining to the decommissioning of platforms, wells, and pipelines, as well as site clearance and platform removal.
BSEE estimates that the ICR includes an annual burden of 29,437 hours and $2,152,644.
Comments are due by Thursday, October 24, 2013.
USCG Establishes Regulated Navigation Area In Gulf of Mexico
The Coast Guard recently announced a final rule establishing a 300-foot diameter Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) in the Mississippi Canyon Block 20 south of New Orleans, LA in the Gulf of Mexico. Although vessels may transit through this area, they may not anchor, moor, or loiter without express permission by the Captain of the Port of New Orleans.
According to the Coast Guard, the RNA is needed to protect the subsurface monitoring and collection dome system above a leaking wellhead from the potential hazards of vessels anchoring, mooring, fishing, or loitering on or near the oil and gas discharge area.
The containment dome system is in place as a result of a September 16, 2004 mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan that toppled the Mississippi Canyon 20 Platform A, covering the platform’s wells with over 100 feet of mud and sediment. The Coast Guard reports that ensuing structural damage has resulted in crude oil and gas plume discharges that have created a sheen on the surface of the water.
Comment Period Extended For Revised USCG Electrical Equipment Regulations
The U.S. Coast Guard recently announced that it is seeking comments on its proposal to amend its regulations concerning electrical equipment in hazardous locations, including offshore oil and gas facilities. Originally set to conclude September 23, the comment period has now been extended to conclude on November 30, 2013.
The announcement cites an extension request made by the International Association of Drilling Contractors and states that the comment period is being extended “to ensure stakeholder have adequate time to submit complete responses.”
It is estimated that the proposed amended regulations would have potential impacts on 299 U.S. vessels other than offshore supply vessels, 54 U.S. MODUs and floating OCS facilities, 6,252 U.S. tank vessels, and 16 foreign MODUs and floating OCS facilities (an estimated 2 foreign vessels and 80 foreign MODUs and floating OCS facilities would see no change as a result of the proposed rule amendments).
For additional information, contact Brent Greenfield with HBW Resources. His contact information is below.
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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.
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