GoM lease sale moves closer to reality, BOEMRE hikes fines

Offshore staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A supplemental environmental impact statement filed by Federal drilling regulators moves forward the prospects of a 2012 Gulf of Mexico lease sale going forward as planned.

The original sale date was postponed as a reaction to the Macondo incident, and this filing progresses toward a sale before June 30, 2012.

The area up for lease — the central planning area in the Gulf of Mexico — covers 63 million acres off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. All of the territory is in deep water — as much as 11,345 ft in some cases.

The government estimates that 1.624 Bbbl of oil and 3.332 tcf of natural gas could be developed as a result of the sale.

Publication of this supplemental environmental impact statement starts a 45-day public comment period.

In a separate move, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement has increased the civil penalties for violation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Those fines increase to $40,000 per day The Oil Pollution Act financial responsibility for violations goes to $30,000 per day.

At the announcement, BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich said the increase is the maximum allowed by regulation, but that it is inadequate.

“Our hope is that new legislation will raise this amount significantly, which would enable us to use the threat and reality of civil fines as viable methods to encourage compliance with offshore oil and gas rules and regulations and meaningfully deter violations,” he said.


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