OTC 2011: Regulators will share checklist for drilling permits

Oil and gas companies soon will be able to snag a copy of federal regulators’ checklist for vetting offshore drilling permit applications.

The new recommended procedures for submitting those drilling applications will be issued in coming weeks and are designed to guide offshore operators in complying with new regulations imposed since last year’s Gulf oil spill, said Michael Bromwich, the head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

The guidelines “can be adopted on a voluntary basis,” Bromwich said during a presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference. The outline will “assist them in complying with our new regulations and . . . assist our staff in processing applications for permits to drill more rapidly.”

“The guiding principles will be greater clarity, transparency and consistency in the permitting process,” Bromwich said.

The ocean energy bureau has issued similar guidance for oil and gas companies since last year’s spill — mainly to clarify new requirements that were imposed after the disaster. But this document is meant to clearly outline the components that operators must have in their drilling permit applications before they can be approved.

Industry leaders have implored regulators for more clarity about the permit applications, in some cases asking for blueprints to guide their proposals. Some offshore operators who have snagged deep-water drilling permits also have fielded requests from competitors for a glance at their applications.

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