BOEMRE Approves Second Deepwater Exploration Plan, Angelle Rejoices

from a release out of Louisiana Secretary of Natural Resources Scott Angelle’s office this morning…

Today, LA Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle commented on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement’s (BOEMRE) approval of the second deepwater Exploration Plan (EP) since the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill.

The EP, submitted by Shell Offshore Inc., is in compliance with the new Site-specific Environmental Assessment (SEA) implemented in August 2010.  The Shell plan includes five wells in about 7,200 feet of water around 72 miles off the Louisiana coast. An approved EP is the next step toward the approval of applications for permits to drill.  Subsequent to the approval of an EP, a permit to drill must be approved by BOEMRE.  BOEMRE has approved only two deepwater exploration plans, both submitted by Shell.

“Shell has done a tremendous job of proactively working through the new rules and regulations to prepare two exploration plans that meet the strenuous requirements of BOEMRE,” said Angelle.

As the state’s liaison between the offshore oil and gas industry and the federal government, Angelle has led the effort to bring a return to responsible exploration and the job and economic stability that come with it.  Under Governor Jindal’s direction, he established the Back to Work Coalition, a group of industry representatives facilitated by the Gulf Economic Survival Team (GEST).  Angelle has presented a unified voice to Director Bromwich and BOEMRE officials in order to create a clearer roadmap for resumption of normal Gulf exploration operations.

In a letter to four coastal governors on May 3, Bromwich commended Angelle and the Back to Work Coalition for creating a forum of discussion on permitting issues that has been constructive and helpful to the industry, Louisiana state officials and federal government officials.

“Just as the Back to Work Coalition has worked tirelessly for the past 5 months, traveling to Washington, D.C. six times and hosting multiple conference calls, the Coalition will continue to aggressively identify the bottle necks and obstacles affecting the deepwater permitting process.”

“Additionally, we will continue to be engaged in the permitting process by offering suggestions and recommendations to BOEMRE by utilizing expert research on issues that will aide operators in achieving permit and plan approvals, while maintaining the high standard for safety that the BOEMRE has put into place.”

On Friday, May 6, Angelle and the GEST submitted to BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich a white paper on the ability of BOEMRE to utilize third parties in the drafting of environmental documents associated with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of pending permits for offshore energy activities.  Angelle and GEST also submitted a white paper on the issues with BOEMRE’s new marine archaeological survey requirements.

As a part of an overall effort to streamline the plan review process, Angelle and the Back to Work Coalition have also recently requested a seminar with BOEMRE regional staff in New Orleans to further identify and understand the specific issues that continue to delay the approval of exploration and development plans.



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