Archives: Offshore

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Uncertainty About Migratory Bird Treaty Act “Takes”: The Biden Administration Delays the Effective Date of the Final Regulations Governing Take of Migratory Birds

On February 5, 2021, the Fish Wildlife Service (“FWS”), under the Biden administration, announced that it was delaying the effective date of a rule promulgated by the Trump administration regarding “incidental takes” and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”). On January 7, 2021, the Trump administration published a final rule interpreting the MBTA as not … Continue Reading

Riding to the Danger Zone: U.S. Fifth Circuit Panel Considers the Zone-of-Danger Test for Maritime Emotional Distress

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 court … Continue Reading

Survey of Proposed Legislation Across the States Affecting the Energy Industry in 2021

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.… Continue Reading

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR ISSUES 60-DAY MORATORIUM ON FEDERAL LEASING AND DRILLING PERMITS

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

Governor Edwards Indicates that Offshore Wind is on the Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico

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

Fifth Circuit Identifies Potential Conflict with Supreme Court on Jones Act Seaman Test

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 … Continue Reading

Floating Foundations: The Future of Offshore Wind

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. … 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, … Continue Reading

Department of Interior Proposes New Financial Assurance and Decommissioning Regulations

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 … Continue Reading

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

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 … Continue Reading

DOI Announcement of a Proposed Rule on Risk Management, Financial Assurance and Loss Prevention

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 … Continue Reading

U.S. Customs Revokes Recent Offshore Wind Ruling; Maintains Uncertainty Whether the Jones Act Applies to Wind Farm Installations on the OCS

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 … Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Interior Announces Formal Partnership with Norway to Promote and Share Offshore Energy Knowledge and Experience

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 … Continue Reading

U.S. Fifth Circuit Clarifies “Substantial Nexus” Test for LHWCA

In Mays v. Chevron Pipe Line Co., 2020 WL 4432025, a three-judge panel of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal held on August 3, 2020, that the Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act may apply to an injury in state territorial waters if there is a substantial nexus between an employee’s injury and his … Continue Reading

Federal Offshore Pipeline Decommissioning in BOEM Significant Sediment Resource Areas

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of denials of applications to decommission offshore pipelines in place in a departure from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (“BSEE”) longstanding practices.  The denials are accompanied by an order from BSEE to decommission the pipelines by removal, with reference to Notice to … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit to Hold Oral Argument in Sojitz v. UNOCAL in April 2020

Last year, in another dispute over who should bear the cost of decommissioning offshore facilities, the Southern District of Texas held that a former sub-assignee of offshore operating rights was entitled to equitable subrogation from the record title owner and initial assignor.  Sojitz Energy Venture, Inc. v. Union Oil Co. of California, 394 F. Supp. … Continue Reading

Increasing Scrutiny of Foreign Investment in the U.S.: BOEM Puts Companies on Notice of Potential CFIUS Review of Bids at Upcoming Federal Offshore Lease Sale

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently issued an Information to Lessees (ITL) regarding the potential applicability of new regulations issued by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to bids at the upcoming March 18th federal offshore lease sale (Lease Sale 254), which will offer for lease all available, unleased … Continue Reading

OSHA Awards Damages for Retaliatory Discharge of Jones Act Seaman in Violation of Seaman’s Protection Act

In a stark reminder of the sanctity of Coast Guard investigations, and the consequences of impeding such investigations, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recently took action against a maritime employer for allegedly retaliating against a seaman who cooperated with the Coast Guard in connection with its investigation of a … Continue Reading

Possible Change to Jones Act Interpretations Regarding Coastwise Activities

The saga of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) ten-year effort to amend its interpretation of key components of the Jones Act continues.  After failed attempts to expand the scope of the Jones Act’s prohibition on activities by non-coastwise endorsed vessels in 2009 and 2017, CBP recently published a notice of proposed modification and … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Decides Dutra Group v. Batterton

Today the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in this landmark case concerning punitive damages.  The six justices in the majority opinion reversed the Ninth Circuit and resolved a circuit split on this issue.  The question presented was whether punitive damages may be awarded to a Jones Act seaman in a personal injury suit … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds State Wage and Hour Laws are Inapplicable to Offshore Drilling Platforms

In a decision that could have far-reaching implications, the United States Supreme Court issued a June 10 opinion holding that California’s wage-and-hour laws do not apply to workers on oil and gas platforms located in open water on the Outer Continental Shelf. The plaintiffs in Parker Drilling Management Services, Ltd. v. Newton, were offshore rig workers who filed … Continue Reading

Alaska District Court Vacates Trump Executive Order On Offshore Leasing

On March 29, 2019, Alaska Federal District Court Judge Sharon Gleason granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiff environmental groups in League of Conservation Voters v. Trump, 3:17-00101.  The case stems from Executive Orders issued under the Obama Administration in 2015 and 2016 which withdrew certain areas in the Arctic and Atlantic regions from exploration … Continue Reading

FIFTH CIRCUIT BEGINS TO CLEAN UP ITS JURISPRUDENCE ON HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER A CONTRACT IS (OR IS NOT) MARITIME

After some thirty years of wrestling with the cumbersome six-part test set forth in Davis & Sons, Inc. v. Gulf Oil Corp.,[1] for determining whether a contract to perform services related to oil & gas exploration on navigable waters is maritime, the Fifth Circuit took up In re Larry Doiron, Incorporated[2] earlier this year in … Continue Reading

Ninth and Fifth Circuits Split on Issue of Punitive Damages Under Maritime Law

The stage appears to be set for intervention by the United States Supreme Court following the Ninth Circuit’s recent panel decision in Batterton v. Dutra Group, No. 15-56775 (9th Cir. Jan. 23, 2018).  In Batterton, the Ninth Circuit expressly disagreed with the Fifth Circuit in holding that an injured seaman may recover punitive damages in … Continue Reading
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