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

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

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 and development under the offshore oil and gas leasing program.  President Trump issued an Executive Order in 2017 which revoked the Obama withdrawals.  The Court’s summary judgment ruling vacated certain portions of the 2017 Trump Executive Order and concluded that the prior Obama Orders would remain in place.  In effect, the ruling removes the areas in the Arctic and the Atlantic covered in the Obama Orders from the five-year leasing program proposed by the Trump Administration. 
Continue Reading Alaska District Court Vacates Trump Executive Order On Offshore Leasing

In recent years, offshore companies have witnessed a marked uptick in the number of enforcement actions undertaken by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).[1]  Operators face more BSEE inspections, Incidents of Non-Compliance (INCs), and civil penalties than ever before.  Meanwhile, the average penalty amount has grown.  For example, in 2014 the agency imposed a civil penalty of $1,230,000—an unprecedented figure in the history of the BSEE civil penalty program. BSEE has also begun to target offshore contractors, who, until recently, have not faced exposure to agency enforcement actions.  See Island Operating Co., Inc., 186 IBLA 199 (2015).  Together, these developments will undoubtedly lead to more litigation and a higher cost of doing business on the Outer Continental Shelf.


Continue Reading Offshore Companies Face Surge in BSEE Enforcement Actions and Penalties