US House Dems seek offshore operations decommissioning data

The US House Natural Resources Committee’s top Democrats asked Interior for documents on BOEM’s decision to cancel measures that would have protected US taxpayers from billions of dollars in costs to decommission offshore oil and gas structures.

The US House Natural Resources Committee’s top Democrats sent a letter to US Interior Sec. David L. Bernhardt seeking documents on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s decision to cancel regulatory measures that the federal lawmakers say would have protected US taxpayers from billions of dollars in costs to decommission offshore oil and gas infrastructure that is no longer operating.

Committee Chair Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chair Alan L. Lowenthal (D-Calif.) said they were concerned about BOEM’s delaying publication of a draft lessees notification rule until this summer after BOEM Acting Director Walter D. Cruickshank told the subcommittee in April that it would be published in the spring.

“We are concerned by BOEM’s decisions to halt the 2016 [notice to lessees] and rescind the sole liability letters, and its continued failure to develop new financial assurance regulations,” the congressmen told Bernhardt. “With US taxpayers on the hook for potentially billions of dollars of decommissioning costs and platform removals, these actions are unnecessarily risky.”

They asked the secretary to provide various documents by Aug. 30 related to BOEM’s offshore infrastructure decommissioning actions that led to the agency’s decision to withdraw its December 2016 sole liabilities orders or its decision to postpone indefinitely the implementation of the 2016 notice to lessees.

The congressmen also sought documents from Jan. 20, 2017, to Mar. 26, 2019, within and between BOEM, the Interior Secretary’s office, and the Counselor to the Secretary, and various oil and gas industry associations including the American Petroleum Institute, National Ocean Industries Association, and Independent Petroleum Association of America, among others, regarding offshore decommissioning issues.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@endeavorb2b.com.

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