HBW Resources: Greenfield Offshore Energy Report
Supporting Offshore Development
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.
Offshore Petroleum Platforms To Be Discussed At Gulf Of Mexico Fishery Mgmt. Council Meeting
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service on Monday announced that the Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a public meeting June 17-21 in Pensacola, FL. The Council is responsible for managing fisheries in federal waters offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
The meeting agenda includes a session from 2-2:30 p.m. on June 19 in which the Council’s Joint Artificial Reef and Habitat Protection Committee will receive a summary on fixed petroleum platforms and artificial reefs as essential fish habitat, review an options paper on fixed petroleum platforms and artificial reefs as essential fish habitat, review a draft Council letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell requesting that the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management require that non-explosive methods be used to remove petroleum platforms in the future, and approve minutes from their April 2013 meeting.
The summary, options paper, draft letter, and April meeting minutes are accessible here (open “Briefing Books” folder, then open “Briefing Book 2013-06” folder, then scroll down to Tabs K-4, K-5, and K-6).
According to the latest Council agenda, the Council will receive a report from the Joint Artificial Reef/Habitat Protection Committee from 10-10:15 a.m. on June 20.
Those interested in watching the meetings live can register here.
BSEE and Coast Guard Sign Memorandum Of Agreement On Mobile Offshore Drilling Units
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) on Tuesdayannounced the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) that– in those instances where BSEE has specific regulations for mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) systems or operations–determines which of the two entities has the lead for the regulation, inspection, and oversight of systems and sub-systems on MODUs on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Pursuant to the MOA, the lead agency is responsible for coordinating with the other agency where appropriate.
The MODU systems and sub-systems for which the lead agencies are identified pertain to the following:
· Structural integrity
· Floating stability
· Station keeping
· Drilling, completion, well servicing, and workover systems
· Pipeline operations and components
· Lightering equipment and procedures
· Marine engineering systems
· Lifts, elevators, and personnel transfer
· Aircraft landing and refueling
· Fire protection
· Electrical design and equipment
· Hazardous areas
· Aids to navigation
· Pollution prevention
· Marine cranes and material handling equipment
· Ventilation in non-hazardous locations
· Life saving equipment
· Workplace safety and health
· Living quarters and accommodation spaces
· General arrangements
· Operational requirements
Calling the MOA a “significant milestone in achieving coordinated oversight of MODUs while continuing our joint effort to improve offshore safety,” BSEE Director James Watson said that MODUs “are unique and dynamic vessels that are an important part of the offshore oil and gas industry’s exploration” that “must be closely monitored.”
Assistant USCG Commandant for Prevention Policy Rear Admiral Joseph A. Servidio added that the BOEM and USCG “share the goal of keeping our oceans clean and offshore workers safe,” stating that the MOA “solidifies the commitment of each regulatory agency to work across agency boundaries to promote safety…”
MODUs are subject to USCG authority for the regulation of vessels and are subject by statute and USCG regulations to inspections, certifications, matters related to the promotion of safety of life and property, and unregulated hazardous working conditions on the OCS. BSEE also regulates MODUs when they are permanently or temporarily attached to the seabed of the OCS and engaged in drilling or downhole operations used for oil, gas, or sulphur drilling, production, or related activities.
The MOA is being implemented as part of a BSEE-USCG Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in November 2012.
Coast Guard Proposes Amendments To Ballast Water Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) on Wednesday announced its proposal to amend existing ballast water management reporting and recordkeeping requirements to require vessels with ballast tanks operating exclusively on voyages between ports or places within a single Captain of the Port (COTP) Zone to submit three consecutive annual reports of their ballast water management practices. The first report would be due by March 31 of the year following the first full year subsequent to publication of a final rule.
USCG estimates that this proposed change would annually affect 1,280 U.S.-flagged vessels that operate exclusively between ports or places within on Captain of the Port Zone and are not currently subject to USCG ballast water management reporting requirements. USCG estimates that this new requirement would apply to owners and operators of, among other vessels, mobile offshore drilling units (5), offshore supply vessels (175), and oil recovery vessels (6).
According to the announcement, this change would allow USCG to “obtain a better understanding of the ballast water management practices of vessels that were previously exempt from reporting” and enable USCG and others “to make the most informed programmatic and regulatory decisions.” In addition, USCG says it would assist in the maintenance of a national ballast water data clearinghouse and the collection of new data for use in potential future rulemakings.
As to recordkeeping and reporting requirements currently prepared by vessels with ballast water tanks that enter U.S. waters, USCG also proposes to update the current ballast water report to include only data deemed essential to understanding and analyzing ballast water management practices. For vessels already subject to ballast water management reporting and recordkeeping requirements, USCG says that the proposed change would simplify and clarify reporting and recordkeeping requirements and decrease related administrative burdens.
In addition, the proposed rule would allow vessels not bound for the Great Lakes or the Hudson River (north of the George Washington Bridge from outside of the Exclusive Economic Zone) to submit ballast water reports after arrival to the port or place of destination.
Comments on the proposed amendments are due by Monday, August 5, 2013.
NMFS Announces Granting Of IHA Permit For USGS Seismic Survey In Gulf Of Mexico
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service on Monday announced its decision to issue an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) authorizing the take of 19 species of marine mammals by Level B harassment during a low-energy marine geophysical (seismic) survey in the Gulf of Mexico in April-May 2013. USGS submitted its application in November 2012.
USGS planned to use one vessel and two Generator Injector airgun array to collect seismic data as part of the “Gas Hydrates Project” in two lease blocks located in the deep water of the northwest Gulf of Mexico (Grand Canyon Lease Block 955 and Walker Ridge Lease Block 313).
The purpose of the survey is to develop technology and collect data to assist in the characterization of marine gas hydrates in order to better understand their impact on seafloor stability and their potential as an energy source.
Comments Sought On Draft Policy On Certain Oil Spill-Related Fishery Closure Modifications
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on Monday announced that it is seeking public comment on its proposed policy to use methods other than emergency or interim rulemaking to modify fishery closures established due to an oil spill or public health emergency.
NMFS has traditionally implemented emergency fishery closures through emergency rules published in the Federal Register. However, NMFS states that the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico “demonstrated that the rapidly changing conditions created by an oil spill or other public health emergency may necessitate frequent modifications to closed areas.” NMFS concludes that it may be difficult in such circumstances to implement and provide notice on timely modifications through the publication of emergency rules.
The agency thus proposes that where an emergency situation arises requiring fishery closures that NMFS anticipates may involve rapid changes in the affected area, the emergency rule would state the specific procedures and communication methods to be used to notify the public of any changes to the closure area. The emergency rule would also seek public comment on the agency’s action and the closure would remain in effect until (1) the circumstances creating the emergency no longer exist and the area is deemed safe, or there is no longer a risk of seafood contamination or adulteration as a result of the event causing the closure; and (2) a termination notice has been published.
Any modifications to the fishery closure area would be made based on the contamination’s current location and anticipated movement and in coordination with relevant local, state, and federal authorities. Under the proposed policy, NMFS would work to announce any revised fishery closures “with adequate lead time” for fishermen to come into compliance.
Comments are due by Wednesday, July 3, 2013.
Obama Proclaims June 2013 “National Oceans Month”
Calling on Americans to “take action to protect, conserve, and restore our oceans, coasts, and the Great
Lakes,” President Obama issued a Proclamation on Friday proclaiming June 2013 “National Oceans
Noting that the oceans “provid[e] food and energy,” “help sustain our climate and our Security…play a
critical role in nearly every part of our national life…connect us to countries around the world…[and]
support transportation and trade networks that grow our economy,” the Proclamation states that “we
must manage…[the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes] wisely not just in our time, but for generations to
The Proclamation refers to threats including “overfishing, pollution, and climate change,” and notes that the recently-released National Ocean Policy (NOP) Final Implementation Plan “turn[s] our National Ocean Policy into concrete actions that protect the environment, streamline Federal operations, and promote economic growth.”
The Proclamation also says that NOP implementation will lead to “better decision-making through science and data sharing,” “ensure tax dollars are spent more efficiently by reducing duplication and cutting red tape,” and “bring local solutions to the challenges we face.” It further notes that “[b]y making smart choices in ocean management, we can give our businesses the tools they need to thrive while protecting the long-term health of our marine ecosystems.”
New England Fishery Management Council Meeting To Include Regional Ocean Planning Briefing
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service on Monday announced that the New England Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a public meeting June 18-20 in Portland, ME. The Council is responsible for managing fisheries in federal waters offshore Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.
According to the announcement, following a lunch break on June 20, the Council will receive a presentation from representatives of the Northeast Regional Ocean Council that will provide an overview of (1) the Northeast Regional Planning Body’s draft goals for regional ocean planning and potential actions; and (2) the purpose of a series of public meetings that are being held in conjunction with the Regional Planning Body’s comment period on those draft goals.
The Northeast Regional Planning Body was established pursuant to the July 2010 National Ocean Policy Executive Order. Under the Executive Order, nine Regional Planning Bodies are to be established and are to develop a Coastal and Marine Spatial Plan for every coastal region in the U.S. The Northeast Regional Planning Body covers Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Those interested in listening to the meeting live can do so by registering here.
Interior Announces Scoping Period For Phase III Deepwater Horizon-Related Early Restoration Projects
The U.S. Interior Department (DOI) on Tuesday announced its intention to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to evaluate the environmental consequences of early restoration project types and the early restoration projects that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill trustees intended to propose in the Phase III Draft Early Restoration Plan (DERP).
In conjunction with the comment period on the draft PEIS and Phase III DERP, DOI also announced that it will hold 6 public scoping meetings in Galveston, TX (June 24), Mobile, AL (June 27), Long Beach, MS (July 16), Houma, LA (July 18), Washington, DC (July 23), and Pensacola, FL (July 25).
According to the announcement, the Trustees intend to consider ecological and human use restoration projects “to restore injuries caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, addressing the physical and biological environment as well as the relationship people have with the environment.” The Trustees intend to release the draft PEIS and Phase III DERP by late 2013 or early 2014.
The DERP will be prepared under the terms of the “Framework for Early Restoration Addressing Injuries Resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill” (Framework Agreement), whereby BP agreed to provide up to $1 billion to address Deepwater Horizon-related natural resource injuries prior to the resolution of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment.
Under the Oil Pollution Act, federal and state agencies and Indian tribes may act as trustees on behalf of the public to assess natural resource injuries and losses and determine the damages required to compensate the public for those injuries and losses. The trustees are charged with the development and implementation of a plan to restore, rehabilitate, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the injured natural resources under their trusteeship.
Comments are due by Friday, August 2, 2013.
Interior Department Announces Atlantic Offshore Lease Sale
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Wednesdayannounced the release of a Final Notice of Sale for two commercial wind energy leases offshoreMassachusetts and Rhode Island.
The total lease sale area is comprised of 164,750 acres covering 13 whole Outer Continental Shelf lease blocks and 26 sub-blocks that are located roughly 9.2 nautical miles south of the Rhode Island shoreline. The North Zone lease will be comprised of 97,498 acres, while the South Zone lease will be comprised of 67,252 acres.
A mock auction for bidders will be held on Wednesday, July 24, followed by a nonmonetary auction phase beginning on Monday, July 29 and the monetary auction phase commencing onWednesday, July 31.
BOEM has deemed the following entities to be eligible bidders: Deepwater Wind New England, LLC, EDF Renewable Development, Inc ., Energy Management, Inc., Fishermen’s Energy, LLC, IBERDROLA RENEWABLES, Inc., Neptune Wind LLC, Sea Breeze Energy LLC, US Mainstream Renewable Power (Offshore) Inc., and US Wind Inc. Bidders Financial Forms are due by Wednesday, June 12, and adequate bid deposits and non-monetary packages (required for eligible bidders applying for a credit) must be received by Wednesday, July 17.
In connection with the Final Notice of Sale announcement, BOEM also announced the availability of arevised environmental assessment (EA) considering (1) reasonably foreseeable environmental and socioeconomic impacts of issuing wind energy leases and subsequent site characterization activities in the lease sale area (e.g. geophysical, geotechnical, archaeological, and biological surveys); and (2) reasonably foreseeable impacts associated with the approval of site assessment activities (e.g. installation and operation of meteorological towers and buoys) on leases that could be issued).
As a result of the EA, BOEM issued a Finding of No Significant Impact concluding that the reasonably foreseeable impacts would not significantly impact the environment and that the preparation of an environmental impact statement would therefore not be required.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell called the lease sale announcement “history in the making as we mark yet another major milestone in the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy.” Sec. Jewell said that “we are moving closer to tapping into the enormous potential offered by offshore wind to create jobs, increase our sustainability, and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness in this new energy frontier,” adding that “[a]s we experience record domestic oil and gas development, we are also working to ensure that America leads the world in developing the energy of the future.”
BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau referred to the eligible bidders as “pioneers in a new energy frontier,” adding that “[w]e congratulate them on their entrepreneurial spirit and look forward to overseeing a fair and competitive leasing process.” He further stated that BOEM “successfully engaged key stakeholders, including industry, commercial fishers and environmental organizations, to address potential conflicts early in the process,” calling the lease sale area “well suited for commercial wind energy development with minimal impacts to the environment and other important uses.”
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, updates and Member profiles can be reviewed at: http://www.mzehrhbw.wordpress.com. Hope you have a great week!
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