Government Shutdown Would Halt Issuing of New Permits on Federal Lands

The clock was ticking for companies trying to push through new drilling permits on federal lands as the looming threat of a government shutdown drew closer Monday. If the United States House and Senate are unable to come to an agreement about a short-term spending plan, the resulting government shutdown would bring to an abrupt halt at least some oil permitting, according to a geophysicist.

“If there is a shutdown, no new federal permits would be written. Without permits, there would be no drilling on federal lands, or offshore lands more than three miles out,” said Kathy Hardy, a geophysicist for EPL Oil and Gas.

While a well site that is on non-federal land is under control of the state, and would not be affected, anything that is done on federal land requires a separate permit, Hardy said.

“There are at least three different permits needed. You need a permit to drill the well, and a permit to complete the well, and a permit to plug the well. If there is anything else done, you need a permit for that, too,” said Hardy.

Although the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would not issue permits for new drilling on public lands following a government shutdown, and the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) would not issue permits for new offshore drilling in federal waters, safety inspections or reviewing of ongoing offshore drilling would continue, as established by the Department of Interior’s contingency plans, the Wall Street Journal said. That means that while new or revised plans on federal lands would stop, existing drilling that is fully permitted, as well as production operations, would still be allowed.


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