BOEMRE calls for comments on deepwater environmental assessments in the Gulf of Mexico

Source: BOEMRE

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) announced that public comment is invited with respect to two Environmental Assessments (EA) for Exploration Plans (EP). Both EPs involve deepwater activity in the Gulf of Mexico and were completed in accordance with new safety and environmental standards implemented since the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

BOEMRE received from Shell Offshore, Inc. a Supplemental EP which includes five proposed exploratory wells in approximately 7,160 to 7,259 feet water depth and information on three previously approved wells, approximately 72 miles offshore Louisiana. 

The second plan received is a Revised EP from Statoil, Inc. and includes two proposed exploratory wells in approximately 7,242 to 7,684 feet water depth and information on one previously approved well, approximately 132 miles offshore Texas. 

Consistent with federal regulations, an EP is deemed "submitted" once all supporting materials and documentation has been provided. Once a plan is deemed submitted, BOEMRE has 30 calendar days to analyze and evaluate it. These are the only two pending exploration plans deemed submitted at this time.

As part of its review, the bureau will prepare an EA specific to the proposed exploration activities. Upon completion of the technical and environmental review, BOEMRE must decide whether to approve the plan, require modifications, or disapprove the plan. An exploration plan describes all exploration activities planned by the operator for a specific lease or leases, including the timing of these activities, information concerning drilling vessels, the location of each planned well, and other relevant information that needs to meet important safety standards.

A revised EP involves changes to proposed activities laready included in a previously approved plan while a supplemental EP involves proposed activities on an oil and gas lease that were not included in the operator's original EP.

The 30-day time frame for review includes a 10-day public comment period to allow an opportunity to review and comment on the issues that should be considered by BOEMRE in preparing the EA for the plan.

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