Speaking at the IADC Well Control of the Americas Conference & Exhibition held 25-26 August in San Antonio, Texas, Lars Herbst, Gulf of Mexico OCS region director for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation & Enforcement (BOEMRE), described changes taking place within the organization and commented on efforts to streamline the permitting process.
One arm of the BOEMRE, the BOEM, will be responsible for developing and managing the nation’s offshore resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way. Its functions will include offshore energy resource leasing, environmental science, environmental analysis and assessment, resource evaluation, economic analysis and plan administration. The Office of Strategic Resources, Office of Renewable Energy, Office of Environmental Programs & Assessment and headquarters for the Alaska, Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and Pacific regions will be in Washington.
Under the supervision of the GOM regional director will be an environmental program office, a leasing plans program office and a resource evaluation program office. Environmental programs will handle environmental assessments, lease sales and exploration, and development plans. The resource evaluation office will handle reserve studies.
The second arm of the BOEMRE, the Bureau of Safety & Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), will be responsible for regulation, enforcement, permitting, inspections, safety management, environmental compliance and enforcement and oil spill response. At the Washington level will be Offshore Regulatory Programs, Oil Spill Response, Environmental Enforcement and the Alaska, GOM and Pacific region headquarters. District offices for regulatory programs and oil spill response will exist in the GOM region. These district offices will be divided into field operations, which will handle permits, production safety systems, inspections, pipelines, pipeline permits, safety management, and a production and development office that will handle conservation enforcement, production management and suspensions.
A workshop will be held at the BOEMRE’s New Orleans office on 19 September to address various aspects of the reorganization.
On the topic of drilling permits, Mr Herbst said the office has been averaging four approved permits a week since 28 February. “Obviously the complexity of permitting has increased quite a bit. It takes time to get guidelines out and for training up operators and regulators.” A completeness checklist, devised to help the industry know what is needed to get their permits approved, has been posted online.
“We will continue to use completeness reviews to determine priority of permits,” Mr Herbst said. “The priority is that ongoing operations, such as deepening or sidetracks, will be handled first.”