Warning on Marine spatial planning
IADC and five other oilfield trade groups have written to the Obama Administration’s Ocean Policy Task Force urging extreme caution in pursuing marine spatial planning (MSP) insofar as it may impact OCS oil and natural gas E&P. The trades asked the task force in its recommendations to the White House to pointedly state that any MSP initiative include economic uses of the oceans, including those essential to energy security. As a model for MSP, the group suggested that the MMS OCS leasing program could serve as a good one for multiple-use management. Any MSP system should be forward-looking, adaptive, comprehensive and efficient. The trades warned that it should also recognize existing legal authorities. Introducing new decision-making apparatuses would result in confusion, lawsuits and policy log-jams.
Seeking expedited OCS development
The US Minerals Management Service (MMS) has announced more rigorous “drill ’em or drop ’em” terms for Gulf of Mexico deepwater E&P. In its announcement of the proposed Lease Sale 213 for the Central GOM Planning Area to be held 10 March 2010, the agency revised lease terms for water depths between 400 m and 1,600 m. Between 400 m and 800 m, five-year lease terms are proposed, a change from previous eight-year terms. Between 800 m and 1,600 m, the initial lease term is reduced from 10 years to seven years, with an extension to 10 years upon commencement of an exploratory well. MMS argues that deepwater E&P in the GOM is now well understood and established, therefore no longer needs the longer leases. Also, MMS says technology is in place to map and exploit these areas.
MMS has been under political pressure to force oil companies to develop existing leases. IADC has long advocated that operators unwilling or unable to diligently develop their leases should be required to return them to the leasing pool for re-offer, rather than be given general lease extensions.
US approach to ballast water
In a 30 November letter to James Oberstar, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Frank LoBiondo, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, IADC joined a coalition of 22 organizations urging Congress to pass legislation eliminating the patchwork of regulation of ballast water discharges in the US. Currently, both the Coast Guard and EPA regulate ballast water discharges under separate legislative mandates, and nearly two dozen states have established their own standards for ballast water and other vessel discharges. The coalition supports the development of strong, bipartisan legislation to solve this untenable situation.