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GoM Lease Sale: Apache Expands Presence in Gulf of Mexico

Apache Corporation announced it was the high bidder on 90 shelf and deep water blocks in the Central Gulf of Mexico offshore lease sale held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in New Orleans.

Of the 56 companies submitting bids for Gulf of Mexico acreage, Apache Corp. was ranked No. 1 overall for its 61 high bids on the shelf, while Apache Deepwater LLC, the company’s deep water arm, was ranked No. 4 overall with 29 high bids.

The sum of the combined high bids was nearly $96 million gross.

“We’re excited about these blocks and our expanding presence in the Gulf of Mexico,” said G. Steven Farris, Apache chairman and chief executive officer. “The Gulf of Mexico is integral to Apache’s long-term growth. The shelf provides some of the best margins, highest returns and most free cash flow, and the deep water has some of the best exploration potential of any region in our global portfolio.”

Bidding on acreage in the shelf was focused on areas where Apache is acquiring proprietary seismic data, along with moderate to deep exploration prospects based on recently acquired and reprocessed seismic data. Successful deep water bids were focused on Pliocene and Miocene trends where Apache has acquired a significant seismic data base. Deep water bid partners included Stone Energy, Samson, Noble, Repsol, Nexen and Ecopetrol.

“This was a very robust lease sale with premium acreage,” said Jon Jeppesen, executive vice president of Apache’s Gulf of Mexico regions. “These blocks strengthen our position on the shelf and in the deep water. In both areas, Apache has the fiscal wherewithal, technical prowess and experience to capture the value of these opportunities.”

The shelf and deep water Gulf of Mexico currently represents 15.5 percent of Apache’s overall daily production.

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U.S. Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Lease Sale Attracts USD 1.7 bln in High Bids

Yesterday, the Department of the Interior took the latest step as part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, holding a 39 million acre lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Central Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale attracted $1,704,500,995 in high bids for tracts on the U.S. outer continental shelf offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A total of 56 offshore energy companies submitted 593 bids on 454 tracts covering more than 2,402,918 acres. The sum of all bids received totaled $2,602,563,726.

The lease sale builds on a series of actions taken by the Obama administration, including additional lease sales for both onshore and offshore areas for oil and gas development, to meet the President’s direction to continue to expand safe and responsible production of America’s important domestic resources.

“This sale, part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, is good news for American jobs, good news for the Gulf economy, and will bring additional domestic resources to market,” said Salazar, who opened the sale. “When it comes to domestic production, the President has made clear he is committed to expanding oil and natural gas production safely and responsibly, and today’s sale is just the latest example of his administration delivering on that commitment. The numbers speak for themselves: every year the President has been in office, domestic oil and gas production has increased, foreign imports of oil have decreased, and we are currently producing more oil than any time in the past eight years.”

The Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 216/222, conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), offered more than 39 million acres for oil and gas development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The acreage included 7,434 tracts from three to more than 230 miles off the coast, in depths ranging from 10 to more than 11,200 feet (3 to 3,400 meters). BOEM estimates the economically recoverable hydrocarbons that could be produced as a result of the acreage offered ranges from 0.8 to 1.6 billion barrels of oil and 3.3 to 6.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The sale builds on the successful Western Gulf of Mexico lease sale held by BOEM in December 2011 that made available more than 21 million acres – equal to an area the size of South Carolina – and attracted more than $337 million in high bids and included 20 companies submitting 241 bids on 191 tracts comprising over a million acres offshore Texas. In 2010, DOI offered nearly 37 million offshore acres to industry for oil and gas leasing.

“Before moving forward with Sale 216/222, we conducted a rigorous analysis of the environmental effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Central Gulf of Mexico,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We have also continued a number of lease terms designed to ensure fair return to the American people and provide innovative incentives to promote diligent development of our nation’s offshore oil and gas resources.”

Yesterday’s highest bid on a tract was $157,111,000 submitted by Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC for Mississippi Canyon, Block 718. Shell submitted the highest total amount in bonus bids, $406,594,560 on 24 tracts.

Lease terms for both sales included escalating rental rates to encourage faster exploration and development of leases as well as shorter lease terms for shallower water in order to encourage timely development. BOEM has increased its minimum bid requirement in deepwater to $100 per acre, up from $37.50 in previous Central lease sales. Rigorous historical analysis showed that leases that received high bids of less than $100 per acre have experienced virtually no exploration and development activities.

Lessees will have to comply with a series of important environmental stipulations, including requirements to protect biologically sensitive features, as well as marine mammals and sea turtles, and employ trained observers to ensure compliance and restrict operations when conditions warrant. These terms will help ensure an appropriate balance of responsible resource development with protection of the human, marine and coastal environments.

Each high bid on a tract will now go through a strict evaluation process within BOEM to ensure the public receives fair market value before a lease is awarded. This is the final Gulf Lease Sale scheduled in the current Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2007-2012.

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BOEM Seeks Public Opinion on Seismic Survey Activity Offshore Alaska

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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced yesterday that it was seeking public input on issues that should be tackled by the bureau in preparing an Environmental Assessment for proposed seismic data acquisition activity in Arctic areas of the Alaska Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

ION Geophysical Corporation has applied to conduct an exploratory 2D marine seismic survey during the fall of 2012. The application proposes conducting operations throughout much of the Beaufort Sea Planning Area, with specific transect lines and segments within the Chukchi Sea Planning Area. Data obtained during this survey would be used by geologists and geophysicists to view and interpret large-scale subsurface geologic structural features and evaluate prospects for oil and gas reserves.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), an agency under the United States Department of the Interior that manages the exploration and development of the nation’s offshore resources, has also on its website announced ION’s permit application #12-01 and the associated area coverage map. BOEM has also explained the the procedures required for submission of comments, setting the deadline for April 30, 2012. More information can be found at BOEM’s official website.

Below you can see ION’s recent video: Case Study in Challenging

Environments: The Arctic Environment

Uploaded by IONGeophysical on Sep 14, 2011

Top of the world tactics at ION. See the ION approach in action as Joe Gagliardi, Director Arctic Technology & Solutions, tackles the punishing Arctic environment. By combining the capabilities across the company, ION delivers the answers and the technology that allows operators to acquire data further north than ever before and dramatically extends the short working season.

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Oil leaders, GOP allies, downplay administration’s seismic plans

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House Natural Resources Committee chairman Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash, leads a committee hearing. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Posted on March 28, 2012 at 11:37 am
by Jennifer A. Dlouhy

The Obama administration’s announcement that it may allow seismic studies potentially paving the way for offshore drilling along the East Coast is political posturing designed to distract voters concerned about high gasoline prices, oil industry leaders and Republican lawmakers said today.

The administration’s move “continues the president’s election-year political ploy of giving speeches and talking about drilling after having spent the first three years in office blocking, delaying and driving up the cost of producing energy in America,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash. “The president is focused on trying to talk his way out of what he’s done, rather than taking real steps to boost American energy production.”

At issue is Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement in Norfolk, Va., this morning that the government is assessing the environmental effects of allowing seismic surveys along the mid- and south-Atlantic that could help locate hidden pockets of oil and gas. If ultimately approved, the studies by private geological research companies also could help guide decisions about where to place renewable energy projects off the coast.

The Interior Department is issuing a draft environmental impact statement that assesses the consequences of seismic research on marine life in the area. The Obama administration had planned to release a similar document in 2010, before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

If the draft environmental assessment is finalized after public comments and hearings, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management could give companies permits to conduct the studies off the coasts of eight East Coast states.

Salazar said that if the geological research turned up promising results, that could open the door to offshore drilling in the area within five years, even though the administration currently has ruled out that kind of exploration before 2017. A government plan for selling offshore drilling leases from 2012 to 2017 does not include any auctions of Atlantic territory.

“If the information that is developed allows us to move forward in a quicker time frame, we can always come in with an amendment,” Salazar said. “We’re not prejudging that at this point in time. My view is … we need to develop information so we can make those wise decisions.”

Industry officials noted that under federal laws, it could take years for the government to revise the 2012-2017 leasing plan, even if federal officials decided to pursue Atlantic drilling.

Erik Milito, upstream director for the American Petroleum Institute, said the administration is repackaging old news and old plans to make it appear it is making real progress to encourage more domestic energy development.

“This is political rhetoric to make it appear the administration is doing something on gas prices, but in reality it is little more than an empty gesture,” Milito said.

Randall Luthi, the president of the National Ocean Industries Association, likened the administration’s announcement to giving the industry “a canoe with no oars, since there are no lease sales planned anywhere off the East Coast.”

If allowed to conduct seismic surveys, geological research firms would ultimately give the resulting information to the government and sell it to companies eager to analyze the data.

But Milito questioned whether seismic companies would pursue the work, given that some of their best customers — oil companies — wouldn’t be able to use it to plan offshore drilling for years, if at all.

“Without an Atlantic coast lease sale in their five-year plan, the administration’s wishful thinking on seismic research has no ultimate purpose,” Milito said. “The White House has banned lease sales in the Atlantic for at least the next five years, discouraging the investment and job creation, and ultimately production, which would make seismic exploration valuable.”

Still, at least six companies already have told the government they want to conduct seismic research along the East Coast.

“We have gotten significant expressions of interest from companies in contracting for these seismic surveys,” said Tommy Beaudreau, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. “I am confident that, assuming the process continues on the track we anticipate, that there will be significant interest next year in conducting these surveys.”

Geological research uses seismic waves to map what lies underground or beneath the ocean floor. The shock waves — which some environmental advocates say may harm marine life — map the density of subterranean material and can gives clues about possible oil and gas.

Seismic studies also help identify geologic hazards and archaeological resources in the seabed — information useful in determining the placement of renewable energy infrastructure as well as oil and gas equipment.

The existing seismic surveys of the Atlantic coast are decades old, and in the years since, “there have been enormous technological advances,” Salazar noted.

“We do need to have seismic moving forward so we can really understand what the resource potential is,” Salazar added.

Source

Gulf Locals and Energy Experts Express Concern Over Decreased Gulf of Mexico Offshore Drilling Activity on Jobs, Economy

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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 8, 2012 – Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). During the hearing, Committee Members heard testimony from Gulf of Mexico business leaders and energy experts who expressed deep concern over the slowdown in offshore permitting that has negatively impacted Gulf businesses and local economies.

“Production in the Gulf of Mexico is essential to our nation’s energy security – accounting for 29 percent of total U.S. crude production and 12 percent of total U.S. natural gas production. The thousands of businesses throughout the Gulf and nationwide that support this industry still struggle to stay afloat as a result of President Obama’s moratorium and the subsequent permitorium,” said Subcommittee Chairman Lamborn (CO-05). “We will hear from some of these stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as review an analysis that shows that the pace of permitting is still well below historical averages.”

Historically low permitting has caused unemployment, economic instability and businesses to leave the Gulf of Mexico.

James Adams, President and CEO of the Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA), which represents more than 100 firms that operate marine service vessels in the Gulf of Mexico, spoke to how devastating the permitting slowdown has been. “The economic impacts of this permit slow-down or de facto moratorium are diverse and farreaching, affecting individuals and businesses in various industries across the Gulf Coast…businesses are indeed laying off workers, reducing hours and salaries, and limiting new hires as a result of the permit slow-down.” Adams also mentioned the reoccurring theme of businesses moving overseas, “and postponing local expansion puts the regional economy on insecure ground, and the loss of businesses in the oil and gas industry to international markets has potential negative effects on the national economy.”

Brady Como, Ecxecutive Vice President of Delmar Systems, a leading supplier of offshore services in the Gulf, testified that slow permitting activity, “has not only had an impact upon our employees that were laid off, but also has been the driving force for the percentage of our international business outside the Gulf of Mexico more than doubling during that time.” To stay in business, his company has been forced to follow, “rigs leaving the gulf all over the world, from Brazil and Australia, to Trinidad, West Africa and the Mediterranean.” Como reminded Members that, “for every drilling rig that leaves, 200 jobs go with it. That impact is even greater when indirect jobs are considered.”

Benjamin Salsbury, Senior Energy Policy Analyst at SVP FBR capital Markets, confirmed that, “there are just 25 Mobile Offshore Drilling Units or ‘floaters’ and 15 platforms drilling. That is 12% fewer floaters than were operating before the Macondo spill despite crude oil prices more than 25% higher.” Salsbury continued to reiterate what local Gulf businesses already know, “there continues to be a permitting constraint on Deepwater Gulf of Mexico drilling activity.”

Background:

A study put forward by Greater New Orleans, Inc. estimates that of the Gulf businesses they surveyed:

  • 41% said they were not making a profit;
  • 50% said they have laid of employees as a result of the moratorium; and
  • 82% said they have lost personal savings as a result of the permit slowdown.

Printable PDF of this document

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BOEM: Conditional Approval for Shell’s Chukchi Sea Exploration Plan (USA)

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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Friday, October 16, issued conditional approval of Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.’s revised Exploration Plan under leases in the Chukchi Sea Planning Area. In its Exploration Plan, Shell proposes drilling up to six exploration wells in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea beginning in the 2012 drilling season.

This decision follows the bureau’s completion of a site-specific Environmental Assessment that examined the potential environmental effects of the plan. The conditions of approval require Shell to comply with a range of important safety and environmental protection measures.

BOEM’s conditional approval does not authorize Shell to commence exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Shell must satisfy the conditions of BOEM’s approval, as well as obtain approvals from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) regarding its Oil Spill Response Plan and well-specific applications for permit to drill.

“Our scientists and subject matter experts have carefully scrutinized Shell’s proposed activities,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We will continue to work closely with agencies across the federal government to ensure that Shell complies with the conditions we have imposed on its Exploration Plan and all other applicable safety, environmental protection and emergency response standards.”

Shell acquired its leases in the Chukchi Sea in 2008 under Lease Sale 193, which BOEM recently reaffirmed after completing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. All of these leases are subject to a series of stipulated requirements to mitigate operational and environmental risks, and the conditions for approval of Shell’s Exploration Plan build on and expand those requirements.

Among the conditions of approval is a measure designed to mitigate the risk of an end-of-season oil spill by requiring Shell to leave sufficient time to implement cap and containment operations as well as significant clean-up before the onset of sea ice, in the event of a loss of well control. Given current technology and weather forecasting capabilities, Shell must cease drilling into zones capable of flowing liquid hydrocarbons 38 days before the first-date of ice encroachment over the drill site. Based on a 5-year analysis of historic weather patterns, BOEM anticipates November 1 as the earliest anticipated date of ice encroachment. The 38-day period would also provide a window for the drilling of a relief well, should one be required.

Shell must also obtain necessary permits from other agencies — the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Source

USA: 7 Companies Beside Deepwater Wind Plan to Build Wind Farm off RI

7 Companies Beside Deepwater Wind Plan to Build Wind Farm off RI (USA)

Seven companies in addition to Deepwater Wind have registered interest in developing offshore energy projects in an area of federal waters between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Providence-based Deepwater announced its application to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management last week for a longstanding plan for a 1,000-megawatt wind farm, but no other companies made public their proposals at the time.

The bureau released a list this week of companies interested in generating energy in waters east of Block Island and southwest of Martha’s Vineyard.

No information was provided on their applications or the scope of their projects.

The applicants include Energy Management Inc., the company behind the 130-turbine Cape Wind proposal in Nantucket Sound; Fishermen’s Energy, a company with plans for a wind farm off the New Jersey coast; and Neptune Wind, which announced in August a plan for a 500-megawatt wind farm in the area between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Also on the list are enXco, a San Diego, Calif.-based company that says it has developed 3,000 megawatts of wind power and 68 megawatts of solar power in the United States, Mexico and Canada; Iberdrola Renewables, the U.S. division of a Spanish company that describes itself as the second-largest developer of wind power in the United States, with 4,800 megawatts of onshore projects; Mainstream Renewable Power, a company that says it is developing 5,500 megawatts of offshore wind power in England, Scotland and Germany; and US Wind, which has also submitted applications to lease waters in another part of Massachusetts and off New Jersey.

The bureau will review the applications before deciding whether to lease areas for development.

By Alex Kuffner (projo)

Original Article

Collateral Damage: Lost Gulf Rigs from Obama Obstructionism (10 down, more to go?)

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by Kevin Mooney
August 18, 2011

“The Gulf Spill of 2010 maybe be remembered as much or more for the economic damage it did because of the Obama’s regulatory overreaction than for the environmental damage it wrought. Two wrongs do not make a right.”

Ten oil rigs have left the Gulf of Mexico since the Obama Administration imposed a moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling in May 2010 and others could follow soon, a detailed July 2011 report from Sen. David Vitter’s (R-La.) office shows.

The ten rigs named in the document are: Marinas, Discover Americas, Ocean Endeavor, Ocean Confidence, Stena Forth, Clyde Bourdeaux, Ensco 8503, Deep Ocean Clarion, Discover Spirit, and Amirante. The rigs have left the Gulf for locations in Egypt, Congo, French Guiana, Liberia, Nigeria and Brazil.

It gets worse.

Several of the remaining rigs could be relocating soon, according to the report. These include the Paul Romano, the Ocean Monarch and the Saratoga. Moreover, eight other rigs that were planned for the Gulf have been detoured away, Don Briggs, President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA), points out.

“When you have companies that would be spending hundreds of millions of dollars, or some cases, billions of dollars, they need certainty,” Briggs explained. “We don’t have that now and I don’t expect that we will anytime soon. We will be in a deteriorating position until this changes.”

Briggs has also questioned the necessityof the moratorium that was imposed in response to the explosion of British Petroleum’s (BP) Macondo oil well on April 20 of last year. The accident resulted in the death of 11 workers and caused an estimated five million barrels of crude oil to spill into the Gulf.

The federal regulatory schemes that are now aimed against Louisiana will ultimately work to the disadvantage of industry in other parts of the country, Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), has warned.

What you are seeing in Louisiana is only a small piece of larger mosaic being put together by the Obama Administration to make affordable energy as inaccessible as possible,” he said. “From the administration’s war on coal to the serious consideration it is giving to imposing a nationwide regulation of hydraulic fracturing, to its shut down of deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, to its `endangerment finding” from the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], the administration is practicing its own form of selected industrial sabotage.

Sen. Vitter has called outtop Obama administration officials for issuing what he views as conflicting and misleading statements on the correct number offshore drilling permits. A U.S. Justice Department motion filed in March stated there are 270 shallow water permit applications and 52 deepwater permit applications pending.

But in testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this past March, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Interior Department had received only 47 shallow water permit applications over the previous nine months and that only seven deepwater permit applications were pending. Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement, told Vitter personallythat only six deepwater permits were pending, and he publicly stated that deepwater permits would be limited because “only a handful of completed applications have been received.”

Vitter has also announced that he will block the nomination of Rebecca Wodder to serve as Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife Parks for the Department of Interior unless expiring Gulf drilling leases are extended for another year.

“Since the moratorium, oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico has been dramatically curtailed,” Vitter said. “In 2011 alone, more than 300 offshore drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico are due to expire. If these leases are allowed to expire, they will revert to the federal government, killing jobs and cutting off potential revenue from exploration and production. The U.S. economy will greatly benefit by allowing the offshore energy industry to get to work and stay working.”

Earlier this year, Vitter also blocked the nomination of Dan Ashe to the Interior Department, but lifted it after new deepwater exploratory permits were issued. In addition, Vitter has successfully opposed an almost $20,000 pay raise for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The Gulf Spill of 2010 maybe be remembered as much or more for the economic damage it did because of the Obama’s regulatory overreaction than for the environmental damage it wrought.

Two wrongs do not make a right.

Original Article

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