This year, the Obama administration implemented regulations to decrease methane emission from U.S. onshore oil and gas operations. In March, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced it would update federal offshore air quality monitoring regulations that BOEM said would more accurately account for emissions from offshore oil and gas activity.
The rule is a good example of the Obama administration’s effort to pass as many regulations as possible before the new U.S. president is sworn into office Jan. 20, 2017, said Randall Luthi, President of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), in an interview with Rigzone. The air quality rule still hasn’t been sent to the Office of Executive Management and Budget, which traditionally takes 60 days to review a rule.
“We’ve encouraged the administration to slow down on air quality,” Luthi commented, adding that studies are still underway to determine the impact of offshore emissions on the environment. Luthi said that the federal government should wait until these studies are done to determine how these regulations should look.
Luthi said that NOIA would have liked both presidential candidates to offer a comprehensive energy policy that recognizes the importance of both fossil fuels and renewables.
“We’re a group that promotes fair access to the Outer Continental Shelf to develop energy,” Luthi explained.
In Luthi’s opinion, neither candidate developed a good energy policy. Instead, their policies advocate the development of one energy source at the expense of another.
Whether the oil and gas industry can meet new regulations through technological innovation depends on how detailed regulations are. The more prescriptive the rule – with specific requirements on what should be done – the more likely it will stifle innovation. Prescriptive rules could also prohibit companies from trying new approaches, Luthi told Rigzone.
Luthi believes that the downturn is forcing the oil and gas industry to root out efficiencies wherever possible. As a result, older offshore and onshore rigs will be retired and newer, more efficient rigs will be available on the market. Luthi believes that industry will emerge from the downcycle stronger, with advances in technology that will allow oil and gas companies to make faster, more accurate decisions.
“We want federal policies to allow for that expanded exploration once the economic conditions are correct,” Luthi stated.
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