MMS Approves Use of FPSOs In Gulf of Mexico

The US Minerals Management Service has approved the use of floating production, storage, and offloading systems in the central and western portions of the Gulf of Mexico. MMS, in its record of decision on an environmental impact statement for FPSOs, said it "found no compelling environmental reason why development and production plans proposing to use this method of production should not be submitted by the oil and gas industry for evaluation by the agency." It also noted that the EIS found FPSO systems do not pose a greater threat to the environment than do current development and production systems, given the application of mitigation measures keyed to the specific proposed operations and locations.

MMS said it would evaluate the potential emissions and impacts of any proposed use of an FPSO within 62 miles of the Breton National Wildlife Area in southern Louisiana and will impose emission restrictions and mitigation requirements to ensure that no significant air quality impacts occur. Proposed FPSO operations outside the range of the EIS study will require more extensive technical and environmental review to demonstrate equivalence to what the EIS covered.

The MMS will not accept proposals for two years for FPSO use within the Lightering Prohibited Areas established by the US Coast Guard. It said that would allow time for discussions with USCG on the potential use and impacts of FPSO operations in those areas.