Regulatory

Secretary Zinke Announces 76 Million Acres Offered in Gulf of Mexico Region-Wide Oil and Gas Lease Sale

1Multisale Regionwide MapU.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that the Department will offer 75.9 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for oil and gas exploration and development. The region-wide lease sale scheduled for August 16, 2017 will include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and provide a reduced royalty rate for shallow water leases to encourage exploration and production under current market conditions.

Lease Sale 249, scheduled to be livestreamed from New Orleans, will be the first offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. Under this program, ten region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf, where resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established. Two Gulf lease sales will be held each year and include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas.

On June 29, President Donald J. Trump and Secretary Zinke announced the public comment period for a new Five-Year National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The comment period is the first step in executing the new program. The 2017-2022 Program, which begins with the lease sale announced today, will continue to be executed until the new National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program is complete.

"Our Outer Continental Shelf lands offer vast energy development opportunities and we are committed to encouraging increased energy exploration and production in these offshore areas to maintain the Nation’s global dominance in energy production," Secretary Zinke said. "As a global energy leader, we will foster energy security and resilience for the benefit of the American people. A strong offshore energy plan that responsibly harnesses more of our resources will spur economic opportunities for industry, states, and local communities, creating jobs and revenue. That's why we also are developing a new national Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas program that will best meet our future energy needs."

Lease Sale 249 will include about 14,220 unleased blocks, located from three to 231 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet (three to 3,400 meters). Excluded from the lease sale are blocks subject to the Congressional moratorium established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006; blocks that are adjacent to or beyond the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone in the area known as the northern portion of the Eastern Gap; and whole blocks and partial blocks within the current boundary of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

"To advance commonsense domestic energy production, the terms of this sale have been developed through extensive environmental analysis, public comment, and consideration of the best available information,” said Counselor to the Secretary on Energy Policy Vincent DeVito. “This will ensure appropriate resource development and further our energy dominance strategy.”

The Gulf of Mexico OCS, covering about 160 million acres, has technically recoverable resources of 550 million barrels of oil and 1.25 trillion cubic feet of gas, accounting for nearly three-fourths of the oil and a fourth of the natural gas produced on federal lands.

The lease sale terms include stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species, and avoid potential conflicts associated with oil and gas development in the region. Additionally, BOEM has included appropriate fiscal terms that take into account market conditions and ensure taxpayers receive a fair return for use of the OCS. These terms include a 12.5 percent royalty rate for leases in less than 200 meters of water depth, and a royalty rate of 18.75 percent for all other leases issued pursuant to the sale.

The 12.5 percent royalty rate for leases in less than 200 meters is lower than the proposed 18.75 percent royalty rate for shallow water leases that BOEM published in the Proposed Notice of Sale. The purpose of this change is to adjust the royalty rate to reflect recent market conditions, thereby encouraging competition and continuing to receive a fair and equitable return on oil and gas resources.

"The rate change reflects this Administration's willingness to swiftly respond to economic indicators,” said DeVito. “The 12.5 percent royalty rate is closer in harmony with the current market and federal onshore lease sales.”

As of July 3, 2017, 15.6 million acres on the U.S. OCS are under lease for oil and gas development (2947 active leases) and 4.1 million of those acres (842 leases) are producing oil and natural gas. More than 97 percent of these leases are in the Gulf of Mexico; about 3 percent are on the OCS off California and Alaska.

All terms and conditions for Gulf of Mexico Region-wide Sale 249 are detailed in the Final Notice of Sale (FNOS) information package, which is available here. Copies of the FNOS maps can be requested from the Gulf of Mexico Region’s Public Information Unit at 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70123, or at 800-200-GULF (4853).

The Notice of Availability of the FNOS is available today for inspection in the Federal Register here and will be published in the Federal Register on July 17, 2017.

BOEM Approves Eni Beaufort Sea Exploration Plan

5Nikaitchuq North Map 20170531After a comprehensive review and consideration of comments received from the public, stakeholders, and Federal and state partner agencies and tribes, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management today conditionally approved a Beaufort Sea exploration plan (EP) it received from Eni US Operating Co. Inc.

Eni US is a subsidiary of Italian multinational oil and gas company Eni S.p.A. In its plan, Eni describes its intent to drill four exploration wells into the federal submerged lands of the Beaufort Sea from its Spy Island Drillsite, a pre-existing facility located in Alaska state waters. Drilling will be conducted during the winter months only. The drilling is scheduled to begin in December 2017.

Over the past 30 days BOEM has been carefully evaluating the EP in accordance with federal law and regulations. This evaluation included a site-specific Environmental Assessment (EA) of the proposed exploration activities pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. The EA concluded with a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

“Eni brought to us a solid, well-considered plan,” said BOEM’s acting director, Walter Cruickshank. “We know there are vast oil and gas resources under the Beaufort Sea, and we look forward to working with Eni in their efforts to tap into this energy potential.”

The evaluation also included two separate public comment periods: one to give the public the opportunity to provide information on issues that should be examined in the Environmental Assessment; and one to comment on the EP itself. This input was carefully considered throughout the process.

“I’d like to thank our Alaska Native stakeholder organizations, environmental groups, members of industry and everyone else who took the time to submit substantive comments,” said James Kendall, director of BOEM’s Alaska OCS Region. “Our staff worked very diligently to analyze every one we received, and incorporate that input into our review.”

The EP and supporting documents, and links for viewing the public comments, are available here. An EP describes all exploration activities planned by the operator for a specific lease or leases, including the timing of these activities, information concerning drilling processes, the surface location of each planned well, and actions to be taken to meet important safety and environmental standards and to protect access to subsistence resources. An EP does not allow an operator to produce oil if any is found; for that, an operator is required to obtain approval of a Development and Production Plan (DPP).

Among the conditions of approval is the requirement that Eni must also procure all appropriate permits from other state and federal agencies, including permits to drill from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. A list of the permits Eni intends to apply for is located in Table A-1 of the EP. A full list of conditions of approval can be found in the approval letter at the link above.

Spy Island is one of four oil- and gas-producing artificial islands in the waters of the Beaufort Sea. The others are Northstar Island, Endicott Island, and Oooguruk Island. The construction of a fifth island, as proposed in a DPP submitted to BOEM by Hilcorp Alaska LLC, is under review by federal agencies.

BOEM Completes Analysis of Royalty Rates for Offshore Oil and Gas Leases

3BOEM logoBOEM announces that they have completed an analysis of their royalty rates and have decided to set the royalty rate at 12.5 percent for leases located in water depths less than 200 meters in the proposed Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Sale 249. This is lower than the proposed 18.75 percent royalty rate for shallow water leases that we published in the Proposed Notice of Sale, and is consistent with the Federal onshore oil and gas lease royalty rate of 12.5 percent. The purpose of this change is to adjust the royalty rate to reflect recent market conditions, thereby encouraging competition and continuing to receive a fair and equitable return on oil and gas resources. The royalty rate in 200 meters of water and deeper will remain at 18.75 percent as in the Proposed Notice of Sale.

BOEM has made this decision after careful consideration of market conditions, available resources, leasing, drilling, and production trends, along with comparable international fiscal systems. In particular, hydrocarbon price conditions and the marginal nature of remaining GOM shelf resources suggest a royalty rate reduction is an appropriate and timely action. The shallow water royalty rate reduction targets the GOM shelf where exploration, development, and production are in decline and where critical infrastructure already exists.

If BOEM moves forward with the sale, the royalty rates and other lease terms related to GOM Sale 249 will be formally announced in the Final Notice of Sale at least 30 days prior to the sale date. The sale date is currently scheduled for August 16, 2017. BOEM is sending this Note to Stakeholders informing you of this change ahead of the Final Notice of Sale because it was made after the Proposed Notice of Sale for GOM Sale 249 (published in March of this year).

GOM Sale 249 is the first scheduled lease sale in the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, and is also the first scheduled Gulf of Mexico region-wide sale that encompasses all available acreage in the Western, Central, and Eastern planning areas. The unleased blocks are located between 3 nautical miles offshore out to the outer limit of the United States' jurisdiction over the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in water depths ranging from 3 meters to more than 3,400 meters.

BOEM also announces that they are analyzing a price-based royalty system and will be engaging stakeholders on this concept later this year. BOEM's concept of a price-based royalty system would provide an incentive to lessees through lower royalty rates in times of lower oil prices, while also ensuring the Federal government receives a greater return for Outer Continental Shelf resources when prices are high. A price-based royalty system will not be in place for GOM Sale 249. BOEM expects to provide more information and provide opportunity for stakeholder input in the coming months.

Federal Offshore Well Permits Support Safe Energy and Economic Development

The operation of drilling an offshore oil and gas well provides for economic development and supports as many as 450 new jobs. As Energy Week concludes, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s well permit approvals in 2017 total 69. Approval of a well permit paves the way for an offshore operator to begin the drilling activity and initiates a vast project supported by drilling crews and service and supply contractors.

6BSEE noble globetrotter 1 permit storyThe drillship Noble Globetrotter I has been used by Shell Offshore Inc. at several sites in the Gulf of Mexico, most recently at Alaminos Canyon 772, a lease block near it's Perdido Spar.

“I believe BSEE holds the potential to move the U.S. offshore energy program forward in both energy production and economic development, and done in a safe and environmentally-responsible manner,” BSEE Director Scott Angelle said today. “Overall, operators in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf are producing more oil and gas than ever before and it all begins with drilling the well.”

BSEE engineers consider well design, capabilities of safety barriers such as the blowout preventer, environmental determinations and other components involved in drilling a well through the application review and analysis, all of these considerations are done to ensure that offshore operations are conducted according to both industry and regulatory safety and environmental standards.

To date, nine wells have been completed in 2017, and 33 wells are currently being drilled on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The economic activity surrounding an offshore drilling project is extensive; it involves the contracting of the rig, the manufacturing of the drill pipe and casing strings, to suppling drilling mud, and the multitude of services required for a successful project.

Federal permits for offshore wells have been issued for more than six decades throughout the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Pacific and Arctic oceans. As America continues to move forward on its path to energy dominance, BSEE plays a vital role in ensuring safe and environmentally-responsible operations to secure reliable and efficient energy production for America’s future.

President Trump and Secretary Zinke Open Up Comment Period for New 5-Year National Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program

1BOEM Oil Platform Silhouette with sun set 257x343At an Energy Week event hosted by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, President Donald J. Trump announced that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has taken action to open up the public comment period for a new 5-year National Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). President Trump announced on stage that the comment period is the first step in executing the new 5-year plan which was put in action by the April 28 executive order on American Energy. The 2017-2022 Five Year Program, which is set to begin this summer, will continue to be executed until the new National OCS Program is complete.

Monday's publication of the RFI begins a 45-day public comment period. Substantial public involvement and extensive analysis will accompany all stages of the planning process, which generally takes two to three years to complete. The notice will be on display in the Federal Register public reading room Friday, June 30, 2017, and published in the Federal Register Monday, July 3. Comments will be accepted until 45 days after the publication date which will be July 3.

“Developing a new National Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program that respects environmental and economic sensitivities but still allows us to responsibly develop our resources is critical to reaching President Trump’s goal of American energy dominance,” said Secretary Zinke. “Offering more areas for energy exploration and responsible development was a cornerstone of the President’s campaign and this action is the first step in making good on that promise for offshore oil and gas.”

“Under the last administration, 94% of the OCS was off-limits to responsible development, despite interest from state and local governments and industry leaders. The Trump Administration is dedicated to energy dominance, growing the economy and giving the public a say in how our natural resources are used, and that’s exactly what we are doing by opening up the Request For Information and a new 5-year plan,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Kate MacGregor.

The Secretary's Order calls for enhancing opportunities for energy exploration, leasing, and development of the OCS, establishing regulatory certainty for OCS activities, and enhancing conservation stewardship, thereby providing jobs, energy security, and revenue for the American people.

“Our country has a massive energy economy and we should absolutely wear it on our sleeves, rather than keep energy resources in the ground,” said Vincent DeVito, Counselor to the Secretary of Interior for Energy Policy. “This work will encourage responsible energy exploration and production, in order to advance the United States' position as a global energy force and foster security for the benefit of the American citizenry."

Publication in the Federal Register of a Request for Information and Comments (RFI) on the Preparation of the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program is the initial step. Per statute and consistent with previous efforts, BOEM will evaluate all 26 of the OCS planning areas during this first stage and is, therefore, requesting comments on all areas.

The initiation of a new National OCS Program development process, managed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), is a key aspect of the implementation of President Donald Trump’s America First Offshore Energy Strategy, as outlined in the President’s Executive Order (E.O.) 13795 on April 28, 2017, which was amplified by Secretary Zinke’s DOI Order 3350 on May 1, 2017.

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires the Secretary of the Interior, through BOEM, to prepare and maintain a schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales in federal waters, indicating the size, timing, and location of auctions that would best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following its approval. In developing the National OCS Program, which has also been known as a Five Year Program, the Secretary is required to achieve an appropriate balance among the potential for environmental impacts, for discovery of oil and gas, and for adverse effects on the coastal zone. As required by the President’s Executive Order, DOI will cooperate with the Departments of Defense and Commerce on issues pertaining to this National OCS Program development process.

“This first step does not propose to schedule sales in particular areas, or make any preliminary decisions on what areas will be included in the schedule,” said BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank. “The RFI considers all areas of the Outer Continental Shelf and provides an opportunity for interested parties to submit comments and suggestions about the potential for leasing and to identify environmental and other concerns and uses that may be affected by offshore leasing.”

BOEM seeks a wide array of input, including information on the economic, social, and environmental values of all OCS resources, as well as the potential impact of oil and gas exploration and development on other resource values of the OCS and the marine, coastal, and human environments.

Using the information received, BOEM will prepare a Draft Proposed Program, followed by a Proposed Program and a Proposed Final Program. Throughout the planning process, BOEM will consult with all interested parties and will seek additional public comment.

The current National OCS Program for 2017–2022 schedules 11 potential lease sales; 10 in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Cook Inlet of Alaska.

BOEM currently manages more than 3,000 active OCS leases, covering more than 16 million acres – the vast majority in the Gulf of Mexico. Of those, approximately 885 are producing leases, covering 4.4 million acres. In 2016, OCS oil and gas leases accounted for about 18 percent of domestic oil production and 4 percent of domestic natural gas production. This production generates billions of dollars in revenue for state and local governments and the U.S. taxpayer, while supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Under the RFI announced, comments will be accepted until August 17, 2017, in either of the following ways:

Electronically (preferred method): BOEM Public Engagement Opportunities the "Open Comment Document" link and follow instructions to view relevant documents and submit comments.

In written form, deliver to: Ms. Kelly Hammerle, National Program Manager, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management; 45600 Woodland Road-VAM-LD; Sterling, Virginia 20166.

Additional information on the process of developing the next National OCS Program as well as on the current National OCS Program can be found here.

U.S. Department of Energy Authorizes Additional Liquefied Natural Gas Exports from Lake Charles

The U.S. Department of Energy announces the approval of two long-term applications to export additional liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Lake Charles LNG Liquefaction Project in Lake Charles, LA. Additional exports in the amount of 0.33 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas are approved from Lake Charles’s proposed liquefaction facility.

4LA LNG v3Image credit: Lake Charles LNG

The two non-additive authorizations for the Lake Charles LNG Liquefaction Project have been issued to Lake Charles Exports, LLC and Lake Charles LNG Export Company (the Lake Charles Companies) authorizing additional exports of domestically produced LNG from the Lake Charles LNG Liquefaction Project to any country in the world not prohibited by U. S. law or policy. The Energy Department previously authorized the Lake Charles Companies to export LNG up to the equivalent of 2 Bcf/d of natural gas to any country in the world not prohibited by U.S. law or policy from the Lake Charles LNG Liquefaction Project. Now, with further engineering of the planned project, additional design capacity has been realized and the Energy Department is authorizing an additional 0.33 Bcf/d of exports from the Lake Charles LNG Liquefaction Project.

According to the Lake Charles Companies, the construction of Lake Charles LNG Liquefaction Project will provide thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs as well.

Natural gas production from America’s shale reserves has generated economic growth and jobs across the United States. Utilizing this clean energy source has also enabled the United States to achieve the largest drop in carbon emissions of all countries in 2016. The DOE is eager to bring this clean burning resource and its benefits to all of our international trading partners. President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary Perry continue carrying this message around the globe, working together with the United States’ allies and trading partners in creating a clean and affordable energy future.

Gains in U.S. natural gas production are expected to continue, with the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest Short Term Energy Outlook projecting an average dry natural gas production rate of 73.3 Bcf/d in 2017, the second highest on record. These production gains have led to increasing export opportunities for the United States, which is transitioning to become a net exporter of natural gas. The Department of Energy has now authorized a total of 21.33 Bcf/d of natural gas exports to any country in the world from planned facilities in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and the Gulf of Mexico. The Lake Charles LNG Liquefaction Project would further position the United States to become a predominant LNG supplier to the rest of the world.

Federal law requires the Energy Department to conduct a public interest review for applications seeking unrestricted export destinations such as the ones submitted by the Lake Charles Companies. The Energy Department conducted an extensive review of the Lake Charles applications. Among other factors, the Department considered the economic, energy security, and environmental impacts, including macroeconomic studies that showed positive benefits to the U.S. economy in scenarios with LNG exports up to 28 Bcf/d. The Department determined that increased exports from the Lake Charles LNG Liquefaction Project, jointly owned by the Texas-based Energy Transfer and the Anglo-Dutch based Royal Dutch Shell, for a period of 20 years, was not inconsistent with the public interest.

The full final authorization for Lake Charles Exports, LLC and Lake Charles LNG Export Company, can be found under “Recent Orders” here.

Leases Awarded for Gulf of Mexico Sale 247

7BOEMLeaseSale OilRigs KevinThe Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) completed its required evaluation to ensure the public receives fair market value for tracts leased in Central Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Lease Sale 247, held on March 22, 2017. The sale offered 9,118 unleased blocks, covering 48 million acres.

During Sale 247, 28 companies participated in submitting 189 bids on 163 tracts. A total of $274,797,434 was received in high bids covering 913,542.21 acres. Of the tracts receiving bids, 22 were in water depths less than 200 meters and 141 were in water depths greater than 200 meters.

After extensive geological, geophysical, engineering, and economic analysis, BOEM awarded 153 tracts receiving bids and rejected 10 high bids. The 10 rejected high bids totaled $10,848,507 and covered 56,365.79 acres. BOEM has determined that the value of those bids was insufficient to provide the public with fair market value for the tracts and will re-offer these tracts as part of the next lease sale, Sale 249 in August. The highest bid accepted was $24,056,719 submitted by Shell Offshore Inc. for Atwater Valley 64. The tract receiving the greatest number bids was Garden Banks 1006 with five bids.

More information on Sale 247.

Cook Inlet Federal Lease Sale Yields more than $3 Million in High Bids

15CookInletCook Inlet Lease Sale 244 -- the first lease sale held in Alaska’s federal waters since 2008 -- today garnered $3,034,815 in high bids for 14 tracts covering roughly 76,615 acres in Cook Inlet, off Southcentral Alaska. All bids were submitted by Hilcorp Alaska LLC.

“Today was the first time in nearly a decade that parcels off Alaska have been leased. This is the latest sign of continued industry optimism in the Trump Administration,” said Vincent DeVito, Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy. This Administration understands that our lands offer vast energy development opportunities and that responsible energy development strengthens all aspects of our energy economy. Today's successful sale is another step in an America First energy strategy that puts us on our way toward energy dominance."

Cook Inlet Lease Sale 244 is the final to be held under the 2012-2017 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program (Five Year Program). It offered 1.09 million acres in Cook Inlet, comprising 224 blocks stretching roughly from Kalgin Island in the north to Augustine Island in the south.

“This sale represents an important step forward for energy development in Alaska,” said Dr. Walter Cruickshank, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM’s) acting director. “It demonstrates our commitment to environmentally responsible energy development that provides economic opportunities and generates jobs. Expanded oil and gas production is critical to America’s economic and energy security, as we move to strengthen the Nation’s energy independence in accordance with the administration’s goals.”

Prior to today’s sale, twelve lease sales were held under the 2012-2017 Five Year Program, which offered about 73 million acres for development and generated about $3.275 billion in bid revenues.

The 2017-2022 Program is set to begin this summer and will be in effect until BOEM completes a new National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program as part of President Donald Trump’s America First Offshore Energy Strategy, as outlined in the President’s Executive Order 13795 on April 28, 2017, and amplified by Secretary Zinke’s Secretary’s Order 3350 on May 1, 2017.

The Cook Inlet Lease Sale terms include stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species, and avoid potential conflicts associated with oil and gas development in the region.

Following today’s sale, each bid will go through a 90-day evaluation process to ensure the public receives fair market value before a lease is awarded. Lease awards will be posted to BOEM’s website as they are completed. BOEM will announce final sale statistics upon completion of evaluations. All materials and statistics for Lease Sale 244.

BOEM Northern Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Bathymetry Grid from 3D Seismic

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management makes publically available a new deepwater bathymetry grid of the northern Gulf of Mexico, created by utilizing 3D seismic data which covers more than 90,000 square miles. The grid provides enhanced resolution compared to existing public bathymetry maps over the region, delivering 10 to 50 times increased horizontal resolution of the salt mini-basin province, abyssal plain, Mississippi Fan, and the Florida Shelf/Escarpment. To create the grid the seafloor was interpreted on over one-hundred 3D seismic time-migrated surveys, then mosaicked together and converted to depth in feet. The grid consists of 1.4 billion, 40-by-40 ft defined cells covering water depths –130 to –11,087 ft (–40 to –3,379 m). The average error is calculated to be 1.3 percent of water depth.

3GoMBathymetryGrid copyNorthern Gulf of Mexico deepwater bathymetry grid created from 3D seismic surveys. The grid defines water depth with 1.4 billion 40-by-40 ft cells and is available in feet and meters. BOEM grid coverage is the area defined by the color in this image. Shaded relief is vertically exaggerated by a factor of five.

BOEM has the responsibility of issuing permits for the acquisition of geophysical data in U.S. Federal waters as designated under the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lands Act. Regulations at 30 CFR 551 allow BOEM to obtain a digital version of any post-processed, post-migrated two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) seismic survey acquired within the OCS. BOEM now maintains a confidential library of approximately 1,700 time and depth 2D/3D seismic surveys for the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), with survey vintages dating back to the early 1980s. These data provide our geoscientists a world-class repository of subsurface digital data to interpret and utilize in achieving our regulatory missions.

Since 1998, BOEM has used the largest, highest quality 3D time surveys to interpret the seafloor. Time surveys were used because the primary objective was not bathymetry but to identify seafloor acoustic amplitude anomalies indicative of authigenic carbonate hardgrounds and natural hydrocarbon seepage; those areas which may be suitable habitat for communities of chemosynthetic, coral, and other benthic organisms [Roberts, 1996, Roberts et al., 1992 and 2000]. The acoustic amplitude response of the seafloor is better resolved in time-migrated surveys rather than depth-migrated, allowing for increased accuracy in the identification of potential benthic habitats and seeps. While this new bathymetry grid does not include acoustic amplitude data for the seafloor, BOEM does publish polygon shapefiles which outline areas of anomalously high and low seafloor acoustic reflectivity, which can be downloaded here.

New DNV GL Guidance Puts Submarine Pipelines Safely to Bed

9DNVGL Pip 00010Depending on the interaction between the pipe and soil, submarine pipelines, both exposed and buried, may be subject to severe displacements and impaired pipeline integrity. Soil characterization and pipe-soil interaction assessment are therefore important parts of any pipeline project. DNV GL now launches a new recommended practice (RP), DNVGL-RP-F114 ‘Pipe-soil interaction for submarine pipelines’, solely dedicated to the interaction between the pipeline and the soil.

Pipe-soil interaction assessments are usually far more complex and there can be more uncertainty on the results compared to traditional foundation design. This is due to limitations in soil data along the pipeline route, difficulties in characterization of the soil close to the seabed, dynamic pipeline installation and subsequent design scenarios involving large displacements.

To manage these uncertainties for improved, safe and cost-efficient pipeline design, geotechnical knowledge and guidance is key. However, until now a dedicated industry standard on pipe-soil interactions has been lacking. DNV GL has collected, aligned and reviewed existing guidance, considering recent research, and developed the new DNVGL-RP-F114. The RP provides holistic guidance and recommendations within a geotechnical framework.

Jens Bergan-Haavik, Senior Geotechnical Engineer, DNV GL – Oil & Gas, says: "Geotechnical competence is required to understand the complex soil behaviour close to the pipe during installation and operational conditions, in addition to managing the inevitable uncertainties related to limited soil data and to simplifications in the engineering models. The pipe-soil RP highlights the value of geotechnical input in projects to ensure robust pipeline design solutions. The RP also provides recommendations on how to safely avoid over-conservatism through specification of state-of-the-art laboratory tests.”

Cathrine Torp, Communication Director, DNV GL – Oil & Gas, says: “According to DNV GL’s seventh annual benchmark study, Short-term agility, long-term resilience, 27% of senior players in the sector believe there will be a significant global increase in the approval of new offshore oil and gas pipeline projects globally over the three years. As increased knowledge is the best cure for managing uncertainties, this new RP will support pipeline projects with the insights they need for safe and efficient installations and operations.”

DNVGL-RP-F114 replaces the pipe-soil interaction guidance given previously in:

  • DNVGL-RP-F105 Free spanning pipelines
  • DNVGL-RP-F107 Risk Assessment of Pipeline Protection
  • DNVGL-RP-F109 On-bottom Stability Design of Submarine Pipelines
  • DNVGL-RP-F110 Global Buckling of Submarine Pipelines
  • DNVGL-RP-F111 Interference between Trawl Gear and Pipelines
  • DNVGL-RP-F113 Pipeline Subsea Repair

The new RP, DNVGL-RP-F114 ‘Pipe-soil interaction for submarine pipelines’, can be downloaded here.