MMS to split into three separate entities -- within 30 days

By Phaedra Friend Troy

The US Department of the Interior is going to break the Minerals Management Service into three separate agencies in its attempt to better oversee the offshore oil and gas industry.

“The Minerals Management Service has three distinct and conflicting missions that – for the benefit of effective enforcement, energy development and revenue collection – must be divided,” said Ken Salazar, US Interior Secretary.

The MMS will be split into three separate divisions: one to manage energy leasing, one to collect royalties, and one to enforce safety regulations.

The new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will oversee leasing areas in the Outer Continental Shelf for both petroleum and renewable energy.

The Office of Natural Resources Revenue will manage royalties and revenues, including asset management, auditing and compliance, and revenue collection and distribution for both onshore and offshore drilling.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement will ensure oversight, safety and environmental protection for offshore activities. 

Plans are under way to implement the changes within the next 30 days.

“This is an agency that has a responsibility of protecting American taxpayers and generates $13 billion a year in revenue,” Salazar said. “It also has the responsibility of protecting the resources of the Outer Continental Shelf. It needs to be a much more robust organization.”

This is the second restructuring plan proposed for the roles of the MMS. Just last week, Salazar proposed bifurcation of the MMS, separating the environment and safety segments of the agency from the royalty collections and leasing arm of the group.

Created in 1982 by former Interior Secretary James Watt, the MMS will no longer exist after the split.

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