The US Minerals Management Service has issued revised guidelines to help operators submit oil and gas exploration and development plans for Gulf of Mexico leases.
Federal law requires a company to obtain MMS approval of either an exploration plan or a development plan before it can conduct drilling or production operations.
The Gulf of Mexico regional office gets 600-700 plans/year.
MMS said previously, guidance regarding E&D regulations was contained in 12 different documents issued over the past several years. The new guidance, a Notice to Lessees and Operators, updates the older guidelines and consolidates them into one document.
The agency said the document, issued Dec. 26, streamlines the process and answers many common questions.
MMS issued an earlier version of the guidance last Apr. 27 and held workshops in June. The Gulf of Mexico office revised the guidelines due to concerns raised at the workshops and in written comments from participants.
It said most of the changes made to the Apr. 27 guidelines were minor. One major change was that MMS clarified the nature of requirements for oil spill and chemical product information and limited the data requirements to only the plans that must undergo an environmental assessment under the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act.
Gulf of Mexico Regional Director Chris Oynes said the revised guidelines will help operators file information needed for compliance with the 1990 Oil Pollution Act.