Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
September 2019

Vol. 24, No.36 Week of September 08, 2019

State, feds to cooperate on offshore O&G

Kay Cashman

Petroleum News

The federal government and the state of Alaska signed a memorandum of understanding Aug. 30 to closely cooperate on resource exploration and development on the outer continental shelf, or OCS.

The agencies involved were the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. According to a statement issued by BOEM, the MOU will be in effect for the next three years and can be extended if both parties agree.

“The state of Alaska and BOEM have always worked hand-in-glove when it comes to safely developing resources from Alaska’s OCS lease areas,” DNR Deputy Commissioner Sara Longan was quoted as saying in a statement from BOEM. “This MOU will facilitate better and more frequent coordination with our federal counterparts. The state of Alaska will continue to offer our expertise and support for holding routine lease sales in Alaska’s prolific OCS basins.”

Part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, BOEM’s mission is to manage development of OCS energy and mineral resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way. The OCS begins three miles offshore; the submerged lands between this boundary and the shoreline are managed by DNR.

“The different jurisdictions aside, both the state and BOEM understand that this is one big ocean,” said Dr. Walter Cruickshank, acting director of BOEM. “To manage these resources and protect the environment in a responsible way, it is critical the state and federal agencies involved communicate with each other and work together whenever possible. This MOU codifies and formalizes those practices and gives both parties a blueprint for moving forward.”

Asked by Petroleum News why the agreement was for only three years, Longan replied in a Sept. 1 email that “using MOU term dates provides the opportunity to assess the efficacy of the MOU, whether the original intent is met, and whether the MOU is still necessary or needs amendment.”

How the MOU will help

Some of the areas highlighted for cooperation in the MOU include:

* The process of planning lease sales.

* Industry plans to conduct OCS exploration development or production activities.

* Environmental reviews.

* National Historic Preservation Act consultation.

* Air emissions and air-quality monitoring.

* Wastewater discharges from oil and gas activities.

When asked for more specifics on how the MOU will work and benefit leaseholders and companies interested in investing in OCS lease and projects, Longan said: “The state of Alaska continues to call for reliable OCS lease sales, in part, by partnering with BOEM and sharing subject matter expertise and information about oil and gas activities taking place on state leases. The MOU requires routine coordination and lines out the type of information sharing that ultimately helps enhance and inform BOEM’s lease planning efforts and OCS project reviews. This coordination and partnership aids industry by helping ensure all relevant information is made available to BOEM in a proactive manner. Furthermore, regulatory considerations are often made and clarified during these coordination activities, especially for projects within the state submerged lease area. This deliberation is key to identifying possible regulatory issues early on, which often mitigates the element of surprise for a lessee or project applicant and avoids delays.”

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