In In re Deepwater Horizon, No. 20-30300, 2021 WL 96168, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal held that fishermen who intentionally came upon the scene of the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon failed to state a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress under general maritime law.  The district

Several pieces of energy-industry legislation are teed up for debate as state legislatures reconvene for their first sessions of 2021. With topics ranging from offshore oil and gas moratoriums to restrictions on natural gas flaring and venting, the following is an overview of notable energy legislation to be heard in state legislatures this year.

The

Following through with President Biden’s campaign promise to halt oil and gas drilling on federal lands, on January 20, 2021, the Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior (“Interior”) issued an order, effective immediately, mandating a 60-day moratorium on new oil and gas leases and drilling permits on public lands and waters (“Order”).
Continue Reading U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR ISSUES 60-DAY MORATORIUM ON FEDERAL LEASING AND DRILLING PERMITS

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