Governor John Bel Edwards has identified offshore wind energy as a feature component of his recently announced renewable energy initiative for the Gulf of Mexico. The Governor announced the initiative at the inaugural meeting of his Climate Initiative Task Force.
Continue Reading Governor Edwards Indicates that Offshore Wind is on the Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico

In Sanchez v. Smart Fabricators of Texas, LLC, 970 F.3d 550,  a three-judge panel of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal held on August 14, 2020, that seaman status under the Jones Act may apply to an injured welder on a jack-up oil rig adjacent to an inland pier. Maintaining that the plaintiff qualified as a seaman under controlling Fifth Circuit precedent but questioning that precedent in light of Supreme Court case law, the panel urged the Fifth Circuit to review the case en banc.
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Identifies Potential Conflict with Supreme Court on Jones Act Seaman Test

With recent increased investments in wind power, the development of floating offshore wind farms presents the potential to access areas previously unavailable. On floating offshore wind farms,  a wind turbine is attached to a floating structure which is tethered to the sea floor, as opposed to the turbine being a fixed foundation in the sea. This allows the wind turbines to operate in deeper waters.[1]
Continue Reading Floating Foundations: The Future of Offshore Wind

In the midst of a chaotic year and a tense campaign season, issues such as COVID-19, race relations, and healthcare seem to be at the forefront of Americans’ minds as they head to the polls on November 3.  But the oil and gas industry stands to be impacted regardless of the election outcome in November, and those impacts will have wide-reaching effects on the U.S. economy, its energy independence, and its diplomatic relations.  The 2020 Presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, have divergent positions on U.S. oil and gas production, with the former pledging continued expansion of domestic oil and gas drilling and production, and the latter pledging to transition the U.S. away from its reliance on fossil fuels.
Continue Reading Presidential Election 2020: Considerations for the Oil & Gas Industry

In the midst of a chaotic year and a tense campaign season, issues such as COVID-19, race relations, and healthcare seem to be at the forefront of Americans’ minds as they head to the polls on November 3.  But the oil and gas industry stands to be impacted regardless of the election outcome in November, and those impacts will have wide-reaching effects on the U.S. economy, its energy independence, and its diplomatic relations.  The 2020 Presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, have divergent positions on U.S. oil and gas production, with the former pledging continued expansion of domestic oil and gas drilling and production, and the latter pledging to transition the U.S. away from its reliance on fossil fuels.
Continue Reading Presidential Election 2020: Considerations for the Oil & Gas Industry

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) recently issued a proposed rule on Risk Management, Financial Assurance and Loss Prevention (“Proposed Rule”), which was published in the Federal Register on October 16, 2020 and is now open for public comment. The Proposed Rule is the result of an extended effort by the Department of Interior, through its subagencies BOEM and BSEE to “streamline its evaluation criteria for determining whether oil, gas and sulfur lessees, right-of-use and easement (RUE) grant holders, and pipeline right-of-way grant holders may be required to provide bonds or other security above the prescribed amounts for base bonds to ensure compliance with their Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) obligations,” primarily decommissioning obligations. The path to this Proposed Rule has been long and winding, beginning in 2014 with BOEM resisting making changes through formal notice and comment rulemaking pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act, and instead continuing to regulate this issue through Notice to Lessee (“NTL”) guidance documents. BOEM issued the last and most controversial NTL, NTL No. 2016-N01, in 2016, which created widespread industry concern, and, as a result, was never fully implemented.

Below is a summary of the current regulations and some of the more significant proposed changes.
Continue Reading Department of Interior Proposes New Financial Assurance and Decommissioning Regulations

U.S. and European major oil companies are beginning to re-evaluate their business structure and investment strategies in light of the current financial, legal, and social climate. In response, the industry is seeing a varying degree of investments in renewable energy and commitments to climate-related goals.  As companies make this transition into renewable energy, one sector picking up speed is wind energy.

BP, which rebranded itself as “Beyond Petroleum” in 2000, announced in February of this year its plans of becoming a net-zero emissions company by 2050. In August, BP set forth its strategy towards net-zero emissions, which includes plans to have 50 gigawatts of renewable generating capacity by 2030, up from the 2.5 gigawatts it currently has.


Continue Reading Oil Majors’ Commitment to Net-Zero Emissions Leads to Investments in Wind Energy

The long-awaited proposed changes to the Department of Interior’s Financial Assurance Rule (“Proposed Rule”) were finally announced yesterday by the Trump Administration.  The announcement provides, among other things, that the proposed rulemaking is in efforts to clarify, streamline and provide greater transparency to the financial assurance requirements (e.g., supplemental bonding) for OCS lessees and grant holders of pipeline rights-of-way (“ROW”) and rights-of-use and easement (“RUE”), while protecting U.S. taxpayers against picking up the tab for high-risk decommissioning liabilities.  Once this Proposed Rule is published in the Federal Register (date yet to be announced), the public will have a 60-day comment period.
Continue Reading DOI Announcement of a Proposed Rule on Risk Management, Financial Assurance and Loss Prevention

On July 15, 2020, the Unites States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) issued a ruling (HQ H309672) in connection with the installation of an offshore wind farm located off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts in U.S. territorial waters (the “July 15 Ruling”).  CBP determined that activities to be conducted in connection with the installation of offshore wind turbine generator (“WTG”) units using a non-coastwise-qualified jack up vessel (i.e., not a Jones Act compliant vessel) (the “Installation Vessel”) did not violate the Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 55102) (or the Passenger Vessel Services Act (46 U.S.C. § 55103)).
Continue Reading U.S. Customs Revokes Recent Offshore Wind Ruling; Maintains Uncertainty Whether the Jones Act Applies to Wind Farm Installations on the OCS

Yesterday, the United State Department of Interior (DOI) announced the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy of the Kingdom of Norway to formalize a partnership to share best practices, knowledge, experience, policy, and regulatory initiatives in connection with the development of as oil, gas, and wind energy resources.
Continue Reading U.S. Department of Interior Announces Formal Partnership with Norway to Promote and Share Offshore Energy Knowledge and Experience