Geological and Geophysical Regulatory Reviews

Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) RegionAtlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) RegionAlaska Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) RegionPacific Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Region


BOEM conducts Geological and Geophysical (G&G) Regulatory Reviews in order to evaluate drilling hazards posed by surface and subsurface geologic conditions and man-made obstructions (30 CFR 550.201 - 207). In addition, reviews are performed to evaluate shallow hazards (seafloor and near seafloor) on operators’ applications for right of way and laying pipelines permits (30 CFR 250.1007 (5)). These reviews are conducted under an OCS operators’ Plans of Exploration (POE), Development and Operations Coordination Document (DOCD), or Application for Permit to Drill (APD). The regulatory reviews provide a detailed evaluation of an operators' geohazards analysis and are used to determine mitigations to be applied to the plans and permits that are issued

Photo of vertical alignment of sedimentary rocks from faulting

These reviews also include verification of an operator’s interpretations, identifications and assessments of potential geohazards in the area affected by drilling, installation of structures, laying pipelines and other ancillary activities related to the plans. Based on surveys conducted by operators, BOEM geoscientists identify and evaluate the potential for different types of risks. Examples include risk of shallow faulting, shallow gas zone, shallow water flows, abnormal pressure zones, lost circulation zones and other natural and manmade hazards. In addition, BOEM geoscientists evaluate potential risk of encountering hydrogen sulfide (H2S).

BOEM geoscientists conduct evaluations (broaching analysis) in support of BSEE reviews and approvals of operators’ APDs. The integrity of the well design is evaluated by BSEE and a broaching analysis is conducted if a determination is made that the well may fail at a certain casing point. The broaching analysis evaluates subsurface stratigraphic and structural conditions to determine if escaping hydrocarbons from the failed casing shoe will be trapped in the formations (rocks) or potentially reach the seafloor at some point in time.

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