The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement
(BOEMRE) today announced that public comment is invited with respect to an Environmental Assessment (EA) for an Exploration Plan (EP). This EP involves deepwater activity in the Gulf of Mexico
and was completed in accordance with new safety and environmental standards implemented since the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
BOEMRE received from BHP Billiton Petroleum Americas, Inc. an Initial EP which proposes one exploratory well in approximately 4,468 feet water depth approximately 124 miles offshore Louisiana. 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. There are currently three deepwater exploration plans that have been deemed submitted and are under analysis and evaluation.
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.
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. In an effort to make the comment opportunity more accessible, the public can both view and provide comments on agency documents at: http://www.boemre.gov/PublicComment.htm