BOEM Addresses Costs, Liability of Offshore Energy Development
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on Risk Management, Financial Assurance, and Loss Prevention to seek public input as it considers modernizing its risk management program and bonding regulations for offshore oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf. This first step initiates a dialogue about BOEM’s existing regulations, which are approximately 20 years old and have not kept pace with offshore infrastructure developments, including deepwater operations, current industry practices, and the growing costs of decommissioning.
“We would like to work with industry and others to determine how to improve our regulatory regime to better align with the realities of aging offshore infrastructure, hazard risks, and increasing costs of decommissioning,” said BOEM acting Director Walter D. Cruickshank. “Today’s action is an important first step in initiating a dialogue on how to best enhance our risk management program to better match current practices, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that industry meets its decommissioning responsibilities and the burden of decommissioning a facility on the Outer Continental Shelf does not fall to taxpayers.”
Existing regulations require lessees on the Outer Continental Shelf to provide bonds or other alternative forms of financial assurance to cover current and future operations, such as decommissioning oil and gas infrastructure. Since the current bonding requirements were set nearly a quarter of a century ago, offshore operations have changed significantly, such as increased advancements in the scale and complexity of deepwater and subsea operations, and the costs of decommissioning have dramatically increased. In light of the infrastructure and operational changes, BOEM has recognized the need to update its requirements and develop a comprehensive program to assist in identifying, prioritizing, and managing the risks associated with industry activities on the Outer Continental Shelf.
BOEM is seeking stakeholder comments regarding various risk management and monitoring activities related to offshore energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf. The advanced notice of proposed rulemaking seeks comment on the bonding and financial assurance program for BOEM's offshore oil and gas program. The bureau is also accepting comments on the analogous bonding and financial assurance program for BOEM's offshore renewable energy and hard minerals programs. The notice also solicits comments on best practices to mitigate risks, as well as whether, or to what extent, the current forms of financial assurance are adequate and appropriate.
The Advanced Notice Proposed Rulemaking will be published in the Federal Register on Aug.19, 2014 and available for public viewing the day before. The ANPR includes a 60-day comment period which will close at midnight on Oct. 20, 2014. After the comment period closes, BOEM plans on continuing its outreach and hosting a workshop with stakeholders to have additional opportunities for discussion as it considers options for proposed regulations.