Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
The Independent Offices Appropriations Act (31 U.S.C. 9701), the Omnibus Appropriations Bill (Pub. L. 104-133, 110 Stat. 1321, April 26, 1996), and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-25, authorize Federal agencies to recover the full cost of services that confer special benefits. Under the Department of the Interior's (DOI) implementing policy, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) is required to charge fees for services that provide special benefits or privileges to an identifiable non-Federal recipient above and beyond those which accrue to the public at large.
Regulations implementing these responsibilities are under 30 CFR part 250, subpart A, General. This request also covers the related Notices to Lessees and Operators (NTLs) that MMS issues to clarify and provide additional guidance on some aspects of our regulations. Responses are mandatory. No questions of a “sensitive” nature are asked. We protect proprietary information according to the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552) and its implementing regulations (43 CFR part 2), and 30 CFR 250.197, “Data and
The MMS uses the information collected under the Subpart A regulations to ensure that operations on the OCS are carried out in a safe and pollution-free manner, do not interfere with the rights of other users on the OCS, and balance the protection and development of OCS resources. Specifically, we use the information collected to:
• Review records of formal crane operator training, rigger training, crane operator qualifications, crane inspections, testing, and maintenance to ensure that lessees perform operations in a safe and workmanlike manner and that equipment is maintained in a safe condition. The MMS also uses the information to make certain that all new and existing cranes installed on OCS fixed platforms must be equipped with anti-two block safety devices, and to assure that uniform methods are employed by lessees for load testing of cranes.
• Review welding, burning, and hot tapping plans, procedures, and records to ensure that these activities are conducted in a safe and workmanlike manner by trained and experienced personnel.
• Provide lessees greater flexibility to comply with regulatory requirements through approval of alternative equipment or procedures and departures to regulations if they demonstrate equal or better compliance with the appropriate performance standards.
• Determine the capability of a well to produce oil or gas in paying quantities or to determine the possible need for additional wells resulting in minimum royalty status on a lease. If a well does not yield hydrocarbons in sufficient quantity to warrant continued operation and production, MMS uses the information to verify the claim and to release the lessee from lease obligations. Conversely, the information is used to extend the term of the lease if additional wells will warrant continued operation and production.
• Ensure that injection of gas promotes conservation of natural resources, prevents waste, and that subsurface storage of natural gas does not unduly interfere with development and production operations under existing leases.
• Ensure the appropriateness of reimbursing lessees for costs incurred in reproducing geological and geophysical (G&G) data and information for submission to MMS and processing or reprocessing G&G information in a form and manner other than that normally used in the conduct of a lessee's business, or to determine the proper reimbursement of costs incurred during inspections.
• Record the designation of an operator authorized to act on behalf of the lessee and to fulfill the lessee's obligations under the OCS Lands Act and implementing regulations, or to record the local agent empowered to receive notices and comply with regulatory orders issued (Form MMS-1123).
• Determine if an application for right-of-use and easement serves the purpose specified in the grant when conducting exploration, development, and production activities or other operations on or off the lease; is maintained for such purposes; and does not unreasonably interfere with the operations of any other lessee.
• Provide for orderly development of leases through the use of information to determine the appropriateness of lessee requests for suspension of operations, including production. For example, MMS needs the information to determine that a suspension is necessary to: (1) Ensure proper lease development, (2) allow time to construct or negotiate use of transportation facilities, (3) allow reasonable time to enter into a sales contract, (4) allow for unavoidable situations, (5) avoid continued operations resulting in premature abandonment of a producing well(s) that would be uneconomic, (6) comply with the National Environmental Policy Act or to conduct an environmental analysis, (7) install equipment for safety and environmental protection, (8) allow time for inordinate delays encountered in obtaining required permits or consents, (9) comply with judicial decrees, or (10) avoid activities that pose a threat of serious, irreparable, or immediate harm.
• Improve safety and environmental protection on the OCS, through collection and analysis of accident reports to ascertain the cause of the accidents and, to determine ways to prevent recurrences.
• Ascertain when the lease ceases production or when the last well ceases production in order to determine the 180th day after the date of completion of the last production. This requirement is expanded in the final rule to include reporting when lease production is initiated, resumes before the end of the 180-day period after production ceased, and when leaseholding operations occur during the referenced 180-day interval. The MMS will use this information to efficiently maintain the lessee/operator lease status.
• Approve requests to cancel leases.
• Be informed when there could be a major disruption in the availability and supply of natural gas and oil due to natural occurrences/hurricanes, to advise the U.S. Coast Guard in case of the need to rescue offshore workers in distress, to monitor damage to offshore platforms and drilling rigs, and to advise the news media and interested public entities when production is shut in and when resumed. The OCS operations produce more than one-quarter of the Nation's natural gas and more than one-sixth of its oil, and it is essential to know when production is interrupted. The Gulf of Mexico Region (GOMR) uses a reporting form for respondents to report evacuation statistics when necessary (Form MMS-132, Evacuation Statistics). It is sent to respondents at the onset of each “hurricane season” in the GOMR.
• Allow operators who exhibit unacceptable performance an incremental approach to improving their overall performance prior to a final decision to disqualify an operator or to pursue debarment proceedings through the execution of a performance improvement plan (PIP). The Subpart A regulations do not address the actual process that we will follow in pursuing the disqualification of operators under §§ 250.135 and 250.136. However, our internal enforcement procedures include allowing such operators to demonstrate a commitment to acceptable performance by the submission of a PIP.
• Determine that respondents have corrected all Incidents of Non-Compliance (INC)(s) identified during inspections (Form MMS-1832). The MMS issues this form to the operator. The operator then corrects the INC(s) and returns the form to the MMS Regional Supervisor no later than 14 days.
• Review records of crane inspection, testing, maintenance, and crane operator qualifications to ensure that lessees perform operations in a safe and workmanlike manner and maintain equipment in a safe condition.
To comply with the public consultation process, on December 13, 2006, we published a
If you wish to comment in response to this notice, you may send your comments to the offices listed under the
This document was received at the Office of the Federal Register on August 28, 2007.