Interior gives more time for comments on frac rule proposal

The story was updated on June 6.

Oil and gas producers will have another 60 days to comment on the US Bureau of Land Management’s latest proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing operations on onshore public lands, US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced.

“Thousands of comments have been made on the proposed hydraulic fracturing rule,” she told the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Many which responded to the original proposal led us to revise it and issue a second one. I’m announcing now that we’re going to give people an extra 60 days to comment on the latest proposal.”

The secretary said improving federal oil and gas permit application processing remains a top priority, but progress will be limited because of ongoing federal budget sequestration impacts.

“We want to bring the lessons we learned offshore onshore,” Jewell said. “There’s a need to streamline the permitting process. These formations cross state lines. Unfortunately, sequestration is forcing us to limit activity in offices where there’s the greatest need. We are trying to address this.”

Sequestration also is preventing DOI from sharing onshore federal oil and gas revenue with states where such activity is located, she continued. “We appreciate the importance of this to the states, but we are required to comply with the law,” she said.

Cites progress

In her written testimony, Jewell cited efforts during her predecessor Ken Salazar’s tenure to improve BLM’s permit processing operations, including moving to an electronic system that will automate and streamline the applications process.

“From fiscal 2006 to 2012, the amount of time it took for all BLM field offices to process and approve complete drilling applications fell by 40%, and the number of inspections completed by all BLM offices rose 73%,” she said.

Jewell said the Obama administration has proposed extending and expanding the interagency permitting pilot office authority under the 2005 Energy Policy Act to allow BLM to focus pilot office resources in areas of highest demand. “We are headed in the right direction and will continue to look at procedures, processes, and the regulatory framework,” she told the committee.

Offshore, Jewell said the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management also has significantly reduced the time for reviewing exploration and development plans for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, with time from submission to approval down almost 35% from October 2010 to October 2011.

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, meanwhile, has reduced the average time it takes to review deepwater oil and gas permits by about 37% from 2011 to 2012, she continued. “This has contributed to the approval by BSEE of 112 new deepwater well permits, higher than in either of the 2 years preceding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” Jewell said.

Industry response

In response to Jewell’s announcement, Kathleen Sgamma, vice-president of government and public affairs at the Western Energy Alliance in Denver, said the regional independent producers association appreciated the comment period’s extension to 90 days.

“We had hoped for 120 days, because the rule is highly complex and the state variance provisions are completely new, but we appreciate that the secretary has granted a reasonable amount of time,” she told OGJ by e-mail.

“Industry will need the time to effectively review and comment on all of the existing various state and federal agency regulatory activities that overlap with much of what BLM is proposing,” observed Erik Milito, the American Petroleum Institute’s upstream operations director, in a separate response.

“Many questions still remain as this new rule has the potential to significantly slow domestic energy production, as well as damage national, state, and local economies,” he continued. “An additional layer of regulation must be carefully scrutinized and the last thing we need are rules that create confusion in the regulatory process.”

Committee members from producing states also commented. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said the new federal fracing regulation proposal allows variances for states with more stringent requirements, but added that uncertainty remains because BLM has the option to rescind such variances.

Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) expressed concern that Gulf Coast states also are not receiving shares of federal offshore oil and gas revenue for their land restoration programs. “I also plan to watch the permitting process more closely,” she said. “Onshore and offshore, we’re not doing as good a job as we could if permitting was more efficient. This is seriously affecting revenue.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

Shell cuts $15 billion in spending for 2015-17

01/30/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has curtailed more than $15 billion in potential spending over the next 3 years, but is not “not overreacting to current low ...

Victoria extends drilling, fracing ban

01/30/2015 The new Victorian Labor government of premier Daniel Andrews has extended the coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and hydraulic fracturing ban in the s...

Chevron’s $35 billion capital budget down 13% from last year

01/30/2015 Chevron Corp. will allocate $35 billion in its capital and exploratory investment program for 2015, including $4 billion of planned expenditures by...

US Senate passes bill approving Keystone XL pipeline project

01/30/2015 The US Senate has passed a bill approving construction of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline by a 62-36 vote after 3 weeks of debate. Nine...

Oxy cuts capital budget by a third

01/30/2015 In the midst of falling oil prices, Occidental Petroleum Corp., Houston, expects to reduce its total capital spending for 2015 to $5.8 billion from...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX natural gas prices drop after storage report

01/30/2015 US natural gas closed at its lowest price in more than 2 years on the New York market Jan. 29 following the government’s weekly gas storage report,...

Pennsylvania governor reinstates state forest drilling moratorium

01/29/2015 Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed an executive order fully reinstating a 2010 moratorium on new oil and gas leases in state forests and parks. ...

PwC: Low oil prices might drive surge in restructuring in 2015

01/29/2015 Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the oil and gas industry hit 10-year highs in terms of deal value and volume in 2014, according to a report f...

DOE could meet 45-day LNG export decision deadline, Senate panel told

01/29/2015 The US Department of Energy would have no trouble meeting a 45-day deadline to reach a national interest determination for proposed LNG export faci...
White Papers

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

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...

6 ways for Energy, Chemical and Oil and Gas Companies to Avert the Impending Workforce Crisis

As many as half of the skilled workers in energy, chemical and oil & gas industries are quickly he...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

When Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


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