The Department of the Interior issued a directive to oil and gas lessees and operators on the Outer Continental Shelf implementing stronger safety requirements that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recommended in his 30-day safety report to the President.
The Notice to Lessees focusing on safety measures issued applies to both deepwater and shallow water operations, although drilling operations in water deeper than 500 feet remain under a six-month moratorium. Shallow water drilling operations and production activity in both deep and shallow waters are not under a moratorium and will continue, provided they are in compliance with the new safety requirements.
"Oil and gas from the Outer Continental Shelf remains an important component of our energy security as we transition to the clean energy economy, but we must ensure that offshore drilling is conducted safely and in compliance with the law," said Secretary Salazar. "The deepwater drilling moratorium that is in place will provide time for the Presidential Commission to complete its work, but production and shallow water drilling may continue under the stronger safety requirements that we are implementing today."
The Safety NTL issued implements the seven safety requirements that Secretary Salazar's 30 day safety report to the President determined could be implemented immediately. Under the NTL, lessees and operators are required to:
Drilling operations that are not subject to the deepwater drilling moratorium must fulfill their BOP reporting requirements by June 17 and submit the required safety certifications by June 28. Failure to provide required certifications will result in the issuance of an incident of non-compliance and may result in a shut-in order.
In the coming days, the Department of the Interior will be also be issuing expanded requirements for exploration plans and development plans on the Outer Continental Shelf, said Bob Abbey, who is the Director of the Bureau of Land Management and who has also been called upon to serve as Director of the Minerals Management Service. The Department of the Interior and the Council on Environmental Quality are also conducting a review of MMS' procedures under the National Environmental Policy Act.
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