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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Disaster in The Gulf....Government Gives Notice on Abandoned Platforms

The Obama administration on Wednesday launched plans to clean up "idle iron" in the Gulf of Mexico, requiring companies to dismantle deserted platforms and permanently plug thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells, including some that are decades old. The mandate will affect nearly 3,500 nonproducing wells and require the decommissioning of about 650 unused oil and gas production platforms.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the move is part of a broader push to boost environmental protections and the safety of offshore energy production. "We have placed the industry on notice that they will be held to the highest standards of planning and operations in developing leases," Salazar added.

For years, environmentalists and industry analysts have been highlighting the problem of "idle iron", the glut of abandoned rigs, platforms and wells in the Gulf that are no longer in use. And the new rule was in the works long before the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

But the disaster inspired fresh scrutiny of the problem and spurred concerns that the aging infrastructure poses environmental risks, especially during hurricanes. Michael Bromwich, the director of the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said the rule responds to that threat.

"This initiative is the product of careful thought and analysis," he said, "and requires that these wells, platforms and pipelines are plugged and dismantled correctly and in a timely manner to substantially reduce such hazards." The mandate, set to go into effect Oct. 15, represents a change in the government's handling of abandoned platforms and wells. Until now, federal decommissioning requirements forced companies to remove infrastructure and plug wells within a year after their individual offshore.....Read the entire article.

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