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December 14, 2010

NOIA comments on new BOEMRE offshore drilling guidelines

BOEMRE the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, yesterday issued a guidance document that it said provides a "clear path forward for safe resumption of deepwater drilling operations."

The agency also said that the docyment contains no new or additional regulatory requirements, but instead provides additional information to assist the oil and gas industry in its efforts to comply with recently-issued rules and prior guidance.

The issues addressed in the information document include compliance issues relating to: the Drilling Safety Rule (or Interim Final Rule), NTL-6 (including Worst Case Discharge calculations), and NTL-10, as well as further information on BOEMRE's inspections of BOP testing, Oil Spill Response Plans (OSRP), and the manner in which environmental assessments will be conducted for deepwater drilling plans.

The information document is available here

National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Randall Luthi offered the following observations on the release:

"We in the industry are all pleased to receive further clarification from the folks at BOEMRE. Before today, many permit applications were unable to be finished and submitted for review as different companies got different informal feedback about what information would be required under new and evolving regulations. The uncertainty, confusion and lack of consistency have been the principal problems.

"It is our hope that today's document will provide additional information for companies to be able to finish and submit their applications for permits to drill (APD's).

"We also hope that BOEMRE will continue to work on providing additional clarity on other issues, such as developing a comprehensive list of which activities will require the completion of environmental assessments, whether categorical exclusions will be considered for use again in the future, and what subsea containment capacities must be in place to allow drilling activity to resume. More questions like these are certain to arise in the coming days as our member companies begin to evaluate these new guidelines in detail, we will see whether these are practicable and achievable requirements. As they say, the devil is in the details.

"We also hope that the issuance of these guidelines indicates a commitment from BOEMRE to turn around and approve those APD's in a timely manner. With tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in capital on the line, the offshore energy industry is anxious to get back to work. We hope today marks an important step in that direction."


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