Senate bill would expand OCS activity, allow contact with Cuba

Nick Snow
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 15 -- US Sens. Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) and Larry Craig (R-Ida.) introduced an energy bill Mar. 14 that they said balances increased conservation, renewable fuels development incentives, and alternative fuels research with increased domestic oil and gas production. The bill quickly drew fire from both Florida senators, however, because the proposed production increase would come from the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The measure also would permit US companies to explore for oil and gas in Cuban waters as close as 45 miles to US shores where Cuba already has granted access to oil companies from other countries. It would authorize travel necessary for US companies' fulltime employees, executives, agents, consultants, distributors, and shippers to visit Cuba for work related to exploration and production. The bill defines a US company as one in which at least one US citizen owns a 51% or more equity interest.

The sponsors said the Security and Fuel Efficiency (SAFE) Energy Act of 2007 closely follows many of the policy recommendations of the Energy Security Leadership Council, which released its "Recommendation to the Nation on Reducing US Oil Dependence" report in December 2006. A number of council members joined Dorgan and Craig at a press conference announcing the legislation, which also aims to increase transportation fuel efficiency, develop alternative fuels and the necessary infrastructure, and manage international energy security risks.

Dorgan called the bill "a major bipartisan initiative that bridges the gap between those who argue increased oil production is the only way to increase our nation's energy security, and those who say increased conservation is the only answer." He said, "We've found a sensible, workable way to do both, as well as to make sure new, alternative, renewable sources of energy are brought into our mix in a very important way."

Craig said, "What you see before you is a comprehensive approach that includes something for everyone to support, as well as provisions that some have not supported individually in the past. For example, I haven't supported increasing automobile efficiency standards alone, but I can when it is coupled with expanded production and innovative alternative fuels like cellulosic ethanol. This is not an end-all-be-all, but SAFE represents a truly bipartisan compromise that goes much farther than any partisan provision could."

Production provisions
Title III of the bill, dealing primarily with increased OCS production, also would authorize a survey of oil and gas resources off the southeastern US, provided governors of the affected states (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) petitioned the US Interior secretary to lift any existing federal prohibitions of such activity.

Another section within this title would require the US Energy secretary to give priority to projects conducting field demonstrations in geologically challenging fields when carrying out enhanced recovery programs authorized by Section 354 of the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPACT).

Section 305 in the new bill's third title would open more eastern Gulf of Mexico acreage for leasing by moving the boundary from 125 miles to 45 miles off the coast. The sponsors said this would still keep activity beyond sight of the coast while maintaining environmental protection and leaseholder liability provisions enacted as part of EPACT.

Both Florida senators, Republican Mel Martinez and Democrat Bill Nelson, immediately criticized this provision. Martinez played a major part in securing the 125-mile limit as a compromise for their support of a catch-all bill late last year which included the provision reopening the so-called Sale 181 area in the eastern GOM that President George W. Bush closed in 2001 at the request of his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The compromise also authorized leasing in deeper water south of the previously closed tracts.

Martinez also criticized the Cuba-related provisions in Dorgan and Craig's new bill, introducing one of his own on Mar. 14 that would deny US visas to any foreign agent or entity that contributes to the development of Cuba's oil exploration program. His bill also would impose sanctions on any individuals or entities that invest $1 million or more to develop Cuba's oil and gas resources.

"Supporting the Castro regime in the development of its petroleum is detrimental to US policy and our national security. It would be contrary to the direction of US policy to place the future of America's energy resources in the hands of an anti-American dictator with a record of expropriating US oil company assets," Martinez said.

Contact Nick Snow at nsnow@cox.net.

Related Articles

PHMSA proposes pipeline accident notification regulations

07/02/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed new federal oil and gas pipeline accident and notification regulations. ...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices plummet on crude inventory build, Iran deadline extension

07/02/2015 Oil prices plummeted more than $2/bbl July 1 to settle at a 2-month low on the New York market after a weekly government report showed the first ri...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

Shell makes FID on Appomattox deepwater development in Gulf of Mexico

07/01/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has taken a final investment decision (FID) on the Appomattox deepwater development, authorizing construction and installatio...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices decline as US crude inventories post first gain in 9 weeks

07/01/2015 Oil prices on July 1 surrendered much of their gains from the day before after the release of a government report showing the first rise in US crud...
White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

On Demand

OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST


Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected