OCS Offers Something to Think About

Outer Continental Shelf

ChevronTexaco’s deepwater Jack-2 discovery provided some front page print and, for a few, a sense of wonder about the technology that made it possible -- but it sent only a small ripple through the ranks of Washington policymakers who by-in-large had their attention focused on the mid-term elections.

By the time this column appears, more than 60 days of the U.S. Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) 2007-2012 Five-Year Plan “final” comment period will have expired.

You still have time to make your opinion register and be heard on OCS access. AAPG members are encouraged to participate in thefor the MMS 2007-2012 OCS Five-Year Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The comment period for both of these items opened in August and will close on Nov. 24 and Nov. 22, respectively.

MMS must hear from affected stakeholders and consumers of oil and gas at every step in the process.

Providing comments to MMS is a straightforward process that can be done online or by post. All required information can be accessed from the GEO-DC Action Alert area on the AAPG Web site. That area includes sample language for a comment, or you can modify as you wish.

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ChevronTexaco’s deepwater Jack-2 discovery provided some front page print and, for a few, a sense of wonder about the technology that made it possible -- but it sent only a small ripple through the ranks of Washington policymakers who by-in-large had their attention focused on the mid-term elections.

By the time this column appears, more than 60 days of the U.S. Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) 2007-2012 Five-Year Plan “final” comment period will have expired.

You still have time to make your opinion register and be heard on OCS access. AAPG members are encouraged to participate in thefor the MMS 2007-2012 OCS Five-Year Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The comment period for both of these items opened in August and will close on Nov. 24 and Nov. 22, respectively.

MMS must hear from affected stakeholders and consumers of oil and gas at every step in the process.

Providing comments to MMS is a straightforward process that can be done online or by post. All required information can be accessed from the GEO-DC Action Alert area on the AAPG Web site. That area includes sample language for a comment, or you can modify as you wish.

Members are encouraged to. Improving access to the OCS is vital to continued health of the U.S. energy portfolio and will impact the future of AAPG and its members.


I have heard members comment they don’t believe they can impact the process. A little arithmetic might help to convince you that the converse is true:

The previous MMS comment period elicited slightly more than 35,000 comments, of which 27,000 supportive comments for OCS acreage expansion.

Consider there are approximately 22,000 U.S.-based AAPG members. If each member submitted a comment, AAPG members alone could dominate this public comment process.

And if each of you convinced one non-member to submit comments ... Just a thought!


Concerning OCS legislation, Congress adjourned for the election recess in September, leaving both the House and Senate versions of OCS access legislation still unreconciled.

Leadership from both committees issued press announcements indicating discussions would continue when the 109th Congress resumes after the mid-term elections. Statements from the House and the Senate were replete with finger-pointing and charges of lack of political realism of the other legislative body.

Both expressed some level of optimism for a compromise before the end of the session.

Time will tell whether the posturing ahead of the mid-term elections will fade with the return of Congress and before a new Congress is sworn in. If the national interest is truly served, there is a chance for OCS legislation to pass in the 109th Congress.

Just a thought!


It has been a little more than a year since hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the U.S. Gulf Coast.

One of the most significant lessons from the oil and natural gas perspective is the fact that those two storms, despite the tremendous damage to infrastructure (including platforms destroyed, production interrupted, pipelines and other downstream infrastructure damaged and rigs blown off position for long distances) -- all devastating to the production, transportation, refining and distribution systems -- did not create a situation that heralded the end of oil and gas operations in that part of the Gulf.

To the contrary: One year later, most of the production capacity has been restored, transportation capacity is largely back and a significant part of the refining capacity is re-established.

Tragic and costly as those events were, they demonstrated some more subtle lessons that need to be reinforced with more complete analysis and documentation:

  • Steady technological progress in safety and environmental protection that has become common practice in the everyday offshore operations.

As MMS has stated repeatedly in its press releases and in public presentations, the near unimaginable destruction resulted in no environmental challenge from loss of wellhead integrity. The hardware worked as it was designed.

  • The risk of so much of domestic production focused in the Gulf of Mexico. Loss of almost 25 percent of domestic production along with the related transportation and refining capacity was instrumental in the rapid crude and natural gas prices run-up. Many of us watching the gasoline prices ratchet up wondered out loud if greater access to areas currently in moratoria status might preclude a similar set of circumstances in the future.

Is this an opportunity for Association members to pause and analyze these events, and consider adding these lessons in a formal fashion to AAPG’s outreach efforts? Seems like a great opportunity for collaboration between DPA, DEG and the Outreach Committee.

Just a thought!

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