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Shallow-water drilling workshop examines BOEM requirements

Posted on 13 August 2010

Louisiana Lt. Governor Scott Angelle

Louisiana Lt. Governor Scott Angelle

IADC participated in a workshop on 12 August in Lafayette, La., held by Louisiana Lt. Governor Scott Angelle. The event was aimed at expediting permitting of shallow water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and putting people back to work.

Shallow-water drilling operators and trade associations impacted by new regulatory requirements in NTL 06, issued 18 June by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM), convened to discuss the permitting process. Fifty-two individuals representing 32 organizations participated in the workshop, held at the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) Center in Lafayette, La. IADC was represented by Dr Lee Hunt, president, and Alan Spackman, vice president – offshore technical and regulatory affairs.

The workshop focused on the specific regulatory requirements that are impeding the shallow-water drilling industry from obtaining the necessary permits in a timely manner so they can continue to operate in the Gulf of Mexico. The inability of the BOEM to clearly articulate the requirements of NTL-06 was the catalyst for this workshop.

Specifically discussed were worst-case discharge calculations and best practices for constructively engaging with the BOEM regarding permitting requirements.

“This is the first time that this many representatives of the shallow-water drilling industry have come together, set aside their competitive issues and worked together to overcome the obstacles that are limiting the approval of new drilling permits,” Lt. Governor Angelle said. “Today’s meeting of the minds was incredibly productive, and the collaboration and best practices gathered here today are the next steps to getting the shallow water drilling industry back to work at full throttle.”

“But, even with today’s progress, we are not out of the woods yet,” he added. “We have come a long way toward understanding the requirements of the permit application process, and we must continue to share information if we expect to restore the shallow water drilling industry to its activity prior to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”

Since the spill and the addition of NTL-05 and NTL-06 regulatory requirements, no new oil well permits and only two new gas wells have been approved. Of the 48 rigs available to drill in shallow water, 15 are currently idled and waiting on permits. By the end of August, 27 of the 48 will be idled.

Approximately 150,000 Americans are employed in the offshore oil and gas industry, and 40,000 of them work in the shallow-water business.

“With this limited number of permits, we now find ourselves on Day 55 of a de facto shallow-water moratorium in spite of the federal government continuing to state that no such moratorium exists,” Lt. Governor Angelle said. “But if we continue to foster this environment of communication, collaboration and clarification, permits will be issued, these rigs can get up and running, and people can get back to work.”

The lieutenant governor partnered with the Gulf Economic Survival Team (GEST) and several industry trade organizations to plan and execute the workshop.

Lori LeBlanc, Executive Director of the GEST, said, “We are pleased to have had some of the smartest people in the shallow-water industry at the workshop today to share their expertise in order to help the industry as a whole move forward. This was a big first step in a very critical effort.”

Following this workshop, the lieutenant governor will continue to host weekly conference calls with shallow-water industry representatives and BOEM employees to discuss permitting status and clarifications on NTL-05 and NTL-06 regulatory requirements.

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