BOEMRE may exempt 13 deepwater firms from NEPA reviews

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 3 -- Thirteen US offshore producers whose deepwater operations were suspended last year during US Interior Sec. Ken Salazar’s moratorium may be able to resume previously approved activities without having to submit new exploration and development plans for supplemental National Environmental Policy reviews, the US Bureau of Offshore Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement announced.

The companies will be required to comply with BOEMRE’s new policies and regulations before continuing those activities without an additional NEPA review, the US Department of the Interior agency said on Jan. 3.

It said notices have gone to ATP Oil & Gas Corp., BHP Billiton Petroleum (GOM) Inc., Chevron USA Inc., Cobalt International Energy, Eni US Operating Co. Inc., Hess Corp., Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Corp., Marathon Oil Co., Murphy Exploration & Production Co. USA, Noble Energy Inc., Shell Offshore Inc., Statoil USA E&P Inc., and Walter Oil & Gas Corp.

The notices outline steps the operators must take before restarting previously approved operations, including compliance with information requirements in Notices to Lessees N06 and N10, which were issued in June, and the subsequently issued interim final safety rule, BOEMRE said.

An operator will not need to revise a previously submitted exploration plan or development operations coordination document if the worst-case discharge estimated for the project, as calculated under NTL-N06, is less than the worst-case discharge which it estimated under its original oil spill response plan, the agency continued. Further reviews will be required if the new worst-case discharge estimate is higher, it added.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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