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Monday, December 10, 2018

Us Interior Department News

California to Ban Crude from Trump Offshore Drilling Plan

© Don Bright / Adobe Stock

California will block the transport of petroleum from new offshore oil rigs through its state, officials told Reuters, a move meant to hobble the Trump administration’s effort to vastly expand drilling in U.S. federal waters. California's threat to deny pipeline permits for transporting oil from new leases off the Pacific Coast is the latest step by states trying to halt the biggest proposed expansion in decades of federal oil and gas leasing. Officials in Florida, North and South Carolina…

U.S. Cancels Arctic Offshore lease Sale

Secretary Sally Jewell Photo Tami Heilemann Courtesy US Dept of the Interior

The U.S. Interior Department on Friday said it would cancel two potential Arctic offshore lease sales after Royal Dutch Shell PLC said that it was not interested in those leases. "In light of Shell's announcement, the amount of acreage already under lease and current market conditions, it does not make sense to prepare for lease sales in the Arctic in the next year and a half," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement. Shell said last month it was giving up its Arctic search for oil after failing to find enough crude oil.

US: Shell is Not Yet Allowed to Drill in Arctic Oil Zone

Fennica (Photo: Arctia Shipping)

The U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday granted Royal Dutch Shell two final permits to explore for crude in the Arctic this summer, but said the company cannot drill into the oil zone until required emergency equipment arrives in the region. The department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) conditionally granted Shell permits for exploration in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, in a season which sea ice limits from July until October. But Shell must have emergency equipment to contain a potential blown-out well deployable within 24 hours before drilling into the oil zone…

Green Groups Ask U.S. to Stall Shell's Final Arctic Permits

MSV Fennica. Pic by Arctia Shipping

Ten environmental groups say a missing icebreaker should be a deal-breaker for Arctic offshore drilling by Royal Dutch Shell PLC off Alaska's northwest coast and urged the U.S. government not to grant final permits to Shell, reports Reuters and AP. The groups in a letter that under Shell's exploration plans, the U.S. Interior Department cannot allow it to begin exploring for oil in the Chukchi Sea off northern Alaska while the icebreaker, the Fennica, is unavailable. The icebreaker is a key part of Shell's exploration plan and spill response plan, said attorney Mike LeVine of Oceana.

Shell's Arctic Return Faces Hurdle at Seattle Port

Royal Dutch Shell's quest to return to Arctic drilling for the first time in three years could face delays after Seattle ruled that the city's port must apply for a permit for the company to use it as a hub for drilling rigs. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a Democrat who has fought against new projects by coal and oil companies, applauded the requirement by the city's planning department. "This is an opportunity for the port and all of us to make a bold statement about how oil companies contribute to climate change, oil spills and other environmental disasters - and reject this short-term lease," Seattle's Mayor Ed Murray said on his website. The Puget Sound region has a decades-long history as a hub for equipment used in energy drilling in Alaska.

Shell Awaits U.S. Nod, Pushes Ahead in Arctic

Royal Dutch Shell is pushing ahead with plans to explore for oil in the Arctic Ocean near Alaska this summer despite opposition from environmental groups. The Anglo-Dutch oil major is preparing "an armada of 25 vessels" to begin a two-year programme to explore two to three wells in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska, Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said on Thursday. "We are currently on track. Some of the permits are issued at the last moment," he told reporters. Although Shell had to pull out of the region in 2012 after an oil rig ran aground, the Arctic oil reserve "remains a massive value opportunity," Simon said. Shell has submitted plans to explore the Arctic to the U.S.

Groups Seek US SEC Probe of Shell Arctic Drilling Risk Disclosures

An environmental group and a law clinic petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Royal Dutch Shell has adequately disclosed to investors the risks of oil exploration in the harsh Arctic waters, the groups said on Tuesday. The U.S. Interior Department is mulling whether Shell can drill test wells for crude and gas off Alaska this summer. The company abandoned exploratory drilling efforts in 2012, an accident-plagued season in a region with little infrastructure for emergency response. Oceana, an international environmental group, and the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago…

US Well Control Regulations Proposed

BSEE Director Brian Salerno

U.S. In response to the findings of investigations into the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, and following a thorough evaluation of recommendations from industry groups, equipment manufacturers, federal agencies, academia and environmental organizations, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced proposed regulations to better protect human lives and the environment from oil spills. The measures include more stringent design requirements and operational procedures for critical well control equipment used in offshore oil and gas operations.

US Begins to Formally Review Shell's Arctic Drilling Plan

The U.S. Interior Department said on Friday it has received a plan by Royal Dutch Shell PLC to explore drilling opportunities in the Arctic.   The company's plan envisions "exploration drilling in the shallow waters of the Chukchi Sea Outer Continental Shelf, off the northwest coast of Alaska."   Late last month, the Obama administration upheld a 2008 Arctic lease sale, clearing an important hurdle for Shell.   The Interior Department will now consider the company's drilling plan, which could take 30 days.   (Reporting By Patrick Rucker; Editing by Sandra Maler and Will Dunham)

Shell Seeks Removal of Activists from Oil Rig

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it has filed a complaint in federal court in Alaska seeking an order to remove Greenpeace activists who climbed aboard an oil rig in the Pacific Ocean bound for the Arctic on Monday in a protest against Arctic drilling. The environmental group said in a statement its team would occupy the underside of the main deck of the Polar Pioneer, which is under contract to Shell, and plans to unfurl a banner with the names of millions of people opposed to Arctic drilling. The group said the activists would not interfere with the vessel's navigation. "We're here to highlight that in less than 100 days Shell is going to the Arctic to drill for oil," 32-year-old Johno Smith, one of the six to board the Blue Marlin, the ship carrying the rig, said in the statement.

U.S. DoI Upholds 2008 Shell Arctic Lease

              Researchers working on the Chukchi Sea in 2010 (photo courtesy of NASA/Kathryn Hansen)

The U.S. Interior Department on Tuesday upheld a 2008 lease sale in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, moving Royal Dutch Shell a step closer to returning to oil and gas exploration in the Arctic since it suffered mishaps in the region in 2012. "The Arctic is an important component of the Administration's national energy strategy, and we remain committed to taking a thoughtful and balanced approach to oil and gas leasing and exploration offshore Alaska," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Danger Lurking: Above & Below the Surface

Feds issue Interim Guidelines for reefing old rigs at the same time that NOAA identifies myriad potentially polluting shipwrecks. Salvage opportunities abound. In late June, the U.S. Interior Department revised its interim policy for defunct, offshore oil-and-gas platforms, making it easier to turn them into artificial reefs under an initiative by the agency’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement or BSEE. Separately, and at virtually the same time, a new NOAA report that examines national oil pollution threat from shipwrecks has been presented to the U.S. Coast Guard.

US Clears Way for Offshore Wind Farm Development

The federal government cleared the way for Virginia to seek a research lease in its Atlantic coastal areas to help speed up development. The move would allow for greater study of wind, waves and wildlife in a 130-square-mile set aside for wind development. The announcement by U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was welcomed by Gov. Bob McDonnell, energy companies and proponents of clean energy, reports Associated Press. Bidding is expected later this year by up to 10 energy companies interested in building wind farms in the federally designated leasing area 27 miles off Virginia Beach. The companies include Energy Management Inc.…

BP Whistle-Blower Seeks Shutdown of Atlantis in Gulf of Mexico

BP Plc.’s Atlantis platform, its second-largest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico, should be shut down until it’s proven to comply with U.S. safety and environmental laws, a lawyer for a whistle-blower told a judge. BP misled U.S. offshore regulators to win operating permits for its Atlantis platform, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of New Orleans, according to the whistle-blower. The facility produced an average of 60,000 barrels of oil daily last year and is capable of producing as much as 200,000 barrels a day, according to data on London-based BP’s website. “Atlantis is presently not fit for service under normal engineering standards,” David Perry, a lawyer for former BP contractor Kenneth Abbott, said at a hearing in federal court in Houston.

Inspector General Faults MMS Investigation of Oil Spill

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. agency in charge of regulating offshore oil drilling is carrying out its investigation of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in a "completely backwards" manner, and lacks sufficient guidelines and inspectors to police the industry's operations in the Gulf, the acting inspector general of the U.S. Interior Department is expected to tell a congressional panel Thursday, June 17. U.S. officials should also consider setting new ethics rules aimed at limiting the influence of oil and gas industry representatives over regulators, according to remarks prepared for delivery by Mary L. Kendall, the acting inspector general of Interior. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

State Seeks Intervention in Drilling Case

Governor Sean Parnell has directed the Department of Law to ask the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for permission to intervene in the lawsuit by environmental groups challenging the U.S. Interior Department’s decision to approve an oil exploration plan for the Chukchi Sea. “OCS exploration and development will increase jobs and revenue for Alaskans and for all Americans,” Governor Parnell said. The state previously was granted intervention in a separate case brought by many of the same plaintiffs against an exploration plan for the Beaufort Sea. In both cases, the state has sought intervention due to the economic importance of offshore oil and gas production.

Plan Advances for VA Offshore Drilling

According to a report from the Associated Press, the U.S. Interior Department moved closer on Nov. 12 to opening waters off Virginia to oil and gas drilling, although the offshore development plans could be scrapped by the next administration under President-elect Obama. Interior's Minerals Management Service gave notice that it is conducting a formal examination of the environmental impact of oil and natural gas drilling 50 miles out from Virginia's coastline. (Source: Associated Press)

Feature:SEMCO Builds World's Largest Liftboat

Lift boats are the unglamorous vessels of oil and gas well servicing industry. They travel to the job site with three large cylindrical legs rising 150-250 ft. above the waterline. Once onsite, lift boats lower their legs to the seabed and raise their hull up to 100 ft. above the waterline to be even with the structure they are servicing to provide a stable platform for workers to transit from the lift boat to the project in which they are working. These versatile vessels can serve through the entire life of a oil or gas well from driving casing to provide a "path" for a jackup rig to drill through construction of the platform, repair and renovation of the platform to plug and abandonment of the well.

U.S. Delays Decision On Oil Drilling In California Waters

The U.S. Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) will reportedly delay its decision on whether oil companies can drill for oil and natural gas off California's coast.

Offshore Rigs Evacuated

According to reports, U.S. and Mexican oil and natural gas producers evacuated some offshore Gulf of Mexico platforms and rigs, curtailing output as Hurricane Dean whipped past Jamaica heading towards the Yucatan Peninsula. Six of the 834 manned oil and natural-gas platforms along the U.S. Gulf Coast have been evacuated, the U.S. Interior Department's Minerals Management Service said Sunday in a statement. That's shut about 1.8 percent of the Gulf's 1.3 million barrels of daily oil production and 0.7 percent of the region's natural gas. Royal Dutch Shell Plc evacuated 380 workers Saturday, the company said in a statement. Shell has shut production in the Gulf by 23,000 barrels of oil and 47.5 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

Moratorium Off Florida Coast

In addition to the annual Central Gulf lease sales, the Minerals Management Service, part of the U.S. Interior Department, also holds an annual lease sale in the Western Gulf. Lease sales in the Central Gulf typically attract more bids than those in the Western Gulf because the region is richer in oil and gas and more discoveries have been made there. Shallow water drew most attention in the latest Central Gulf lease sale, with bids received on 338 blocks in depths up to 656 ft.. High bids totaled $167.5 million. Bids were received on 157 blocks in depths of over 2,624 ft., with high bids totaling $274.2 million. Companies also bid on 52 blocks in intermediate depths, with high bids amounting to $63.7. million. — (Reuters)

US Explores Future Offshore Drilling Plans

The U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, according to a Reuters report. However, Interior Secretary Gale Norton said she would uphold a White House promise and not offer any federal leases through 2012 within 100 miles of Florida's coast. The new U.S. areas of the Outer Continental Shelf. tourism industries. the government develops its 2007-2012 leasing plan. five-year leasing program expires on June 30, 2007. Public comments are due by Oct. 11 . four states -- Alaska, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. federal offshore waters. leases. according to government estimates.

Congress Offshore Drilling Bill Dims

According to Reuters, the U.S. House of Representatives will not accept legislation passed by the Senate that keeps most U.S. Atlantic and Pacific waters off-limits to energy exploration, a key U.S. Republican lawmaker. Comments by Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, chairman of the House Energy Committee, indicate dimming prospects that the energy legislation will pass Congress this year. House Republicans will not concede to Senate lawmakers' calls to accept an offshore drilling bill that expands energy exploration only narrowly, he said. Barton's comments to reporters at the Independent Petroleum Association of America's annual meeting signal tough going for offshore drilling legislation once Congress returns for a short voting session after the Nov. 7 mid-term elections.

Maritime Reporter Magazine Cover Nov 2018 - Workboat Edition

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