API: Feds moving too slow on offshore drilling plans


The oil and gas industry’s leading trade group today fired a broadside at the Obama administration, accusing it of slow-walking essential offshore drilling permits and stalling domestic energy development.

“Not enough is happening to ensure the oil and gas development our nation needs,” said Erik Milito, the American Petroleum Institute’s upstream director, in a conference call with reporters.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement has approved permits for 16 deep-water drilling projects that must satisfy new requirements for containing runaway wells. It also has signed off on 12 offshore exploration plans after completing new site-specific environmental assessments of those drilling blueprints.

But while some exploration plans and drilling permits have been issued, Milito said, that permitting continues on an unacceptably “slow track.”

Milito said there is widespread confusion among oil and gas operators about how they can satisfy new rules and requirements imposed since last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster — including more robust calculations of the possible worst-case discharge from a blown-out well and the containment mandate.

Earlier this month, the ocean energy bureau unveiled a checklist designed to shed more light on the required components in drilling permit applications.

That move came at the request of oil and gas companies, including some whose initial submissions were deemed incomplete. But Milito said it didn’t go far enough, because it didn’t provide enough granular detail about how to fulfill new requirements.

“What the industry needs is not a checklist, but clarity,” Milito said. “They aren’t providing the clarity to the industry as a whole as to what the requirements are for the specific information.” Milito said oil and gas companies want to know, “when you look at the specific requirements . . . granularly, what is it you are looking for to meet the demands of the agency?”

Milito said the confusion results in oil and gas companies who submit exploration plans and applications for permits and then see them returned by regulators for revisions or additions — a practice the industry has come to describe as the “recycling” or “ping ponging” of those proposals.

“We have seen dozens of exploration plans get recycled on average four to five times,” Milito said. ‘It should take one submission to look at that plan and say this is the information you need for this to be complete. This is the type of process that is not productive.”

One significant change that Milito cheered was the bureau’s decision to assign a single staffer to work with oil and gas companies on proposed exploration plans.

An administration source who spoke on condition of anonymity said industry officials have indicated that they have gotten the necessary guidance.

“Members of the oil and gas industry deserve and have received the clarity they have requested,” the source said. “Maybe their lobbyists should hold off on their press overtures until they’ve actually talked to their members.”

Bureau officials, including director Michael Bromwich, have said that a number of proposed permits and plans were submitted to the agency without fulfilling basic requirements.

The agency has issued guidance documents and held a workshop for more than 200 oil and gas industry representatives on developing offshore exploration and development plans.

Bromwich has stressed the agency’s commitment to rigorously examining offshore drilling proposals and ensuring the safety of those operations, given last year’s spill. Permitting may never return to pre-Deepwater Horizon levels, he has said, because the agency is doing far more thorough reviews than cursory examinations that were customary pre-spill.

The bureau also has committed to doing a site-specific environmental analysis of many proposed offshore exploration plans — a change from pre-spill treatment of those documents, when regulators commonly exempted them from environmental reviews.

Jennifer Dlouhy

13 Responses

  1. RO says:

    To the Oil Companies and Right Wing Nut Jobs:

    Learn how to drill without causing the worst ecological disaster of all time and wasting oil, — then you can get a permit faster. Until then, wait.
    To those complaining: why do you drive a truck that gets 3 mpg, just so you can carry your kids baseball mitt?

  2. MUNDYJM says:

    The crazy environmentalists are evil and whether intentional or not, will destroy America if they continue this course!

  3. MUNDYJM says:

    9.1% UNEMPLOYMENT!!! SKY ROCKETING GAS PRICES!!! 9.1% UNEMPLOYMENT!!! SKY ROCKETING GAS PRICES!!! You liberals GET IT NOW?? Obama is a LIAR and I believe he is intentionally dragging his feet on this, for some other dangerous agenda. Even a 2 year old would understand the importance of allowing more permits!! I can not wait for 2012!! It will be pay back from the now INFORMED American People!

  4. Jeff says:

    Do you not comprehend that greed does not supersede safety. Barack Obama runs his administration with Great Care, and this is a prime example. Keep up the Great Work, Barack Obama!

  5. Trail Trash says:

    Government bureaucracy. Do it slow, make it confusing and call it progress.

  6. lab-handler says:

    We can’t be European until we are paying $8.00 a gallon and he can make his greenie weenie friends rich. Remember Van Jones ?

  7. OilPatch41 says:

    I would believe the API before I would believe anyone in the Obama administration. The BOEMRE was created by the Dept. of Interior in response to the Deepwater Horizion (I have a copy of the letter authorizing this agency)without congressional approval. This is what is wrong with the government, too many agencies being created with powers that are only determined by the cabinet or executive branch to regulate and also spend tax money. EXAMPLE OF GOVERNMENT OUT OF CONTROL.

  8. SaltWaterCroc says:

    Maybe the energy companies should have been faster in reacting to the spill. Hopefully, their spill response plans no longer include sections on saving polar bears.

  9. Terry H says:

    The only thing Obama’s “team” is quick about is taking more tax money and running up the deficit.

  10. Juan Carlos says:

    Oilbama continues to stab us in the back, but denies even holding a knife. He claims to be transparent, but darkness clouds his administration like a plague of locust covering the sun!

  11. Toocan says:

    We need to be more like China or Mexico. They have a booming energy with plenty of jobs. Of course, they work 16 hours a day for $5.00 and live in filth, but still…..

  12. KimSISPro says:

    Of course the idiot in chief will do anything to harm the U.S. economy, including increasing our dependence on islamic oil.

  13. richard says:

    Dear API,

    Quit whining.

    The Oysters in the Gulf of Mexico.