BOEM Announces Final Rule for Oil and Gas Leasing

3-29-2016

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) Final Rule for Leasing of Oil and Gas or Sulfur in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) will be published in the Federal Register on March 30, 2016.

The final rule updates and streamlines the existing OCS leasing regulations. The update also reflects that the former Minerals Management Service has reorganized and divided into three separate new organizations. The final rule reorganizes and reorders regulations for clarity, eliminates redundant or otherwise unnecessary text, and adds new definitions and sections to standardize or clarify practices in all three BOEM OCS regional offices.

The final rule is available on BOEM’s website: http://www.boem.gov/Leasing-Final-Rule/ It will not become effective until 60 days following the date of publication in the Federal Register in order to allow industry sufficient time to review and comply with new provisions. The final rule constitutes the completion of the rulemaking that began with the proposed rule for “Leasing of Sulphur or Oil and Gas and Bonding Requirements in the Outer Continental Shelf” (74 FR 25177), which was originally published by MMS on May 27, 2009.

BOEM received a total of eight comments from oil and gas industry representatives and two citizens, who commented to show their support of the OCS oil and gas leasing program. Each comment was considered and some resulted in changes to the proposed rule. BOEM’s responses are addressed in the preamble to the final rule.

This final rule reorganizes leasing requirements to more effectively reflect existing leasing processes, policies and procedures that have evolved over the years. The rule does not include substantive changes to bonding regulations, which will be the subject of a separate rulemaking.

Changes incorporated in the final rule will assist BOEM in meeting its stewardship responsibilities and performing its role as regulator, while providing industry with clear regulations on a variety of topics, including lease sales, definitions of ownership interests, designations of operators, transfers of lease interest and corresponding monetary and non-monetary rights and obligations.

The final rule also clarifies filing requirements for transfers of economic interests in leases that will enable BOEM to track and maintain information that may be valuable in assessing a company’s financial strength and reliability.

For more information on the rule visit BOEM’s website at http://www.boem.gov/Leasing-Final-Rule/