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  1. Court Overturns Offshore Drilling Rules Provided in NTL-05

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010 4:55 pm by

    Federal Judge Martin Feldman of the Eastern District of Louisiana issued a decision on October 19, 2010 overturning the Department of Interior’s (DOI) notice to lessees No. 2010-05 (“NTL-05″).  Ensco Offshore Co v. Salazar, No. 10-1941 (E.D. La. filed Oct. 19, 2010). The Court determined that, in issuing NTL-05, the government failed to comply with the requisite procedural requirements and, therefore, ruled that NTL-05 has no legal force or effect.  However, given that DOI has already codified most of the requirements of NTL-05 in an interim rule, the Court’s ruling may have little actual impact. (more…)


  2. With Deepwater Drilling Moratorium Removed, Drillers Could Face De Facto Moratorium

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010 12:23 pm by

    Secretary Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Director Bromwich lifted the deepwater drilling moratorium on October 12, 2010 and declared the Department of the Interior ”open for business.” While the moratorium may officially have been lifted, deepwater drillers could face the same predicament as shallow water drillers – a de facto drilling moratorium.  (more…)


  3. Salazar Creates New Revenue Collections and Auditing Office

    Sunday, October 10, 2010 12:00 pm by

    Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar launched on October 1 the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR). This new office, which used to be called Minerals Revenue Management (MRM) and was part of the former Minerals Management Service (MMS), will be relocated to another part of the Department, will keep the same staff, and just like its predecessor, will be responsible for collecting and disbursing revenues from energy production on Federal and tribal lands, and on the Outer Continental Shelf. Like MRM, ONRR will also conduct auditing, compliance, investigation, enforcement and asset management for offshore and onshore Federal and tribal lands. The majority of ONRR’s operations will continue to be run out of the Denver Federal Center located in Colorado. Thus, the creation of ONRR is little more than a name change, as the same functions will be performed by the same staff. (more…)


  4. Details of OCS Interim Final Rule Released

    Friday, October 8, 2010 5:06 pm by

    In the wake of the Macondo blowout, on May 27, 2010, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued a report to President Obama, providing numerous recommendations intended to improve the safety of offshore oil and gas drilling operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) (the “Safety Measures Report”).  On June 8, 2010, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) (formerly the Minerals Management Service) issued a notice to lessees, NTL No. 2010-05, “Increased Safety Measures for Energy Development on the OCS,” which implemented the immediate recommendations from the Safety Measures Report.

    BOEMRE released a fact sheet announcing an interim final Drilling Safety Rule on September 30, 2010.  However, the text of the rule was not made available until October 7. (more…)


  5. BOEMRE’s Final SEMS Rule Substantially Modifies the Original Proposal, Inviting Legal Challenge

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010 2:00 pm by

    The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) announced a final Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) rule on September 30, 2010.  The Minerals Management Service (MMS) originally proposed a SEMS rule in a Federal Register notice published on June 17, 2009.  The proposal would have required operators to develop SEMS programs for oil and gas activities conducted on the Outer Continental Shelf.  MMS proposed that SEMS programs would need to address four elements:  (i) Hazards Analysis, (ii) Management of Change, (iii) Operating Procedures, and (iv) Mechanical Integrity.  MMS assumed in the proposal that, of the 130 operators to which the rule would apply, the 60 operators that already have SEMS programs would not incur any new costs.

    The fact sheet issued by BOEMRE announcing the final SEMS rule indicates that 13 elements of the American Petroleum Institute’s Recommended Practice 75 will be mandatory.  These mandatory elements are: (more…)


  6. BOEMRE Releases Offshore Interim Rule and New Safety Regulations

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 6:40 pm by

    The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has released fact sheets for two new rules that impact offshore drilling:  the Drilling Safety Rule and the Workplace Safety Rule.  The announcement came on September 30, 2010.

    The Drilling Safety Rule is an interim final rule that will be effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register, probably in the next several days.  The rule creates requirements that address well bore integrity and well control equipment and procedures.  It is based on recommendations provided in Secretary Salazar’s May 27, 2010 report to the President and codifies the requirements stated in Notice to Lessees No. 2010-N05 (NTL-05).  BOEMRE will accept public comments on the rule for 60 days after the rule’s publication.  Thereafter, the agency will determine whether to publish a new rule modified to address comments received or to confirm the interim rule as final without additional changes. (more…)


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