Environmental Policy News

BSEE Revises Regulations to Provide Clarity and Improve Accountability for Decommissioning of Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Infrastructure

To ensure offshore oil and gas wells, platforms, pipelines, and related infrastructure are decommissioned in a timely, safe, and environmentally responsible manner, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement will publish a final rule that specifies decommissioning requirements for rights-of-use and easement grant holders and formalizes BSEE’s policies regarding performance by predecessors ordered to decommission Outer Continental Shelf facilities.

The final rule is available for public inspection in the Federal Register today.

“If not properly decommissioned, offshore oil and gas infrastructure can become safety hazards, cause environmental harm, or become obstructions by interfering with navigation, fishing, or other uses of the Outer Continental Shelf,” said BSEE Director Kevin Sligh. “The revised regulations provide the certainty requested by industry about how BSEE pursues decommissioning compliance from affected lessees and grant holders, helping operators to plan for future decommissioning actions and improving industry’s compliance with decommissioning obligations.”

The final rule:

  • Specifies right-of-use and easement holders accrue decommissioning responsibilities in the same manner as lessees, operating rights holders, and right-of-way grant holders.
  • Establishes timeframes for recipients of BSEE decommissioning orders to take organizational measures and submit decommissioning plans in response.

On Oct. 16, 2020, BSEE and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management published a proposed rule entitled “Risk Management, Financial Assurance and Loss Prevention” (85 FR 65904); the new rule finalizes only the BSEE-related portions of that proposal. In response to the jointly proposed rule, BOEM and BSEE received 36 unique comments from various entities including individual companies, industry organizations, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens. Of those 36 commenters, 21 submitted comments on the BSEE provisions. BSEE evaluated all submitted comments, revised the proposed rule accordingly, and finalized certain BSEE-only provisions. BOEM intends to publish a revised BOEM-only proposed rulemaking to address financial assurance requirements of OCS lessees and holders of operating rights.

The final rule is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register April 18, 2023.

BSEE’s regulatory authority for OCS decommissioning is provided by 30 CFR 250, Subpart Q, Decommissioning Activities. For additional information regarding BSEE’s decommissioning requirements and activities, visit https://www.bsee.gov/what-we-do/decommissioning.

The mission of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is to promote safety, protect the environment, and conserve resources offshore through vigorous regulatory oversight and enforcement.

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