Australian government boosts E&P
The Australian government has announced a boost to petroleum exploration in Australian waters, with 11 new offshore permits awarded to exploration companies from the US, France, China, India and Australia. In total, the companies will invest more than AUD$800 million over six years, taking total investment in the 2006 offshore petroleum acreage release to almost AUD$2.2 billion. The exploration areas that these permits apply to are in waters off Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory and include four permits in Designated Frontier Areas.
MMS deep-gas rule criticized
IADC joined US producer associations to criticize MMS’ proposal to devise “incentives” for ultra-deep natural gas E&P. The proposed rule would actually deny or limit royalty relief for ultra-deep wells sidetracked from existing wellsites, or secondary wellsites on existing leases. The industry associations have urged MMS to reconsider the rule.
Biofouling risk management
IADC has contributed comments to Australia’s Hazard Analysis for Marine Biofouling in the Petroleum Industry, part of an effort to develop guidelines to manage biofouling risks. IADC’s letter pointed out that dry tows can provide a significant reduction in the risk of spreading alien marine species in less than the suggested four weeks. Report drafters recommended that the drying-out period remain unchanged for now but said it can be elucidated in a later phase of the project.
EPA to study coalbed methane effects
The EPA has decided to once again study the impact of coalbed methane operations on water resources despite a previous study finding no harmful effects of hydraulic fracturing procedures in coalbed methane E&P. EPA’s current investigation will examine basins in Appalachia, New Mexico and Wyoming. IADC is working with other associations to demonstrate that federal intervention is unjustified.
EU E&P transparency challenged
The European Commission has contacted representative associations of “extractive industries” listed on European stock exchanges to encourage them to “disclose payments to governments in their financial reports.” The governments contemplated are primarily in the resource-rich so-called developing world. The European E&P industry has responded to the query by highlighting its self-generated examinations of transparency and corruption. The formal industry response, led by OGP and endorsed by IADC, argues that there’s no reason to mandate unilateral disclosure for EU-registered companies.