Posts Tagged ‘NOIA’

The NOIA/ICF report is favorable from a Gulf of Mexico perspective, but 2 general caveats should be highlighted:

  • “The estimation of the production related GHG for various crude oils and condensates is a complex process that is hindered by lack of public, up-to-date, and high-quality data.
  • “There is considerable controversy regarding certain critical data including quantity of gas flared, operational flare efficiencies, and the volumes of methane releases along oil and gas supply chains.”


  • More work is needed to better determine cold venting volumes:
    • Table 7, p. 13, of the NOIA/ICF report indicates venting (methane) emissions of 71,200 metric tons/year for GoM operations. That number is aligned with the 2017 GOADS data (70,488 tons per Table 6-11, p. 112).
    • ONRR venting data are in the same ballpark as the ICF and GOADS data. Per ONRR data, 2.35 bcf (~61,000 metric tons) were vented in 2022.
    • The recent PNAS report found that much more gas is being vented: 410,000 – 810,000 tons annually. If the PNAS findings are accurate, venting is being significantly underestimated and/or under-reported.
    • Per ICF, lower flaring and venting volumes are the main reason for the GoM’s lower GHG emission intensity, so data accuracy is important. The difference between the government data and the PNAS findings (see table below) should be carefully assessed.
  • The NOIA/ICF report did not distinguish between GoM deepwater and shelf emissions.
    • The PNAS report indicates much higher methane emissions intensity on the shelf, as do most subjective assessments.
    • Future studies should provide separate GHG intensity data for shelf and deepwater facilities.
  • All production cannot be from the lowest emission intensity sources. The objective should be to minimize emissions from each source, not to eliminate production. GoM shelf operations have other advantages, most notably the production of nonassociated natural gas.
sourceGoM gas vented (annual in metric tons)
ICF report71,200
GOADS 201770,488
ONRR 2022 data61,000
PNAS report410,000 – 810,000

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Paul, his father Hank, and the rest of the Danos team have always had a strong commitment to safety achievement. In recognition of their outstanding safety, pollution prevention, and compliance record, Danos won multiple National and District MMS SAFE Awards in the Production Contractor category. Danos is also a 2-time recipient of NOIA’s Safety in Seas Award. Paul will no doubt be an outstanding NOIA leader.

NOIA press release

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Yesterday, EIAP issued a report for API and NOIA that estimates economic impacts from leasing program delays. The fundamental reason for regular sales has not received much public attention, but is summarized succinctly in the report:

In most cases, additional leases are required to produce an existing field fully or to underpin the economics of processing and transportation infrastructure. It is thus important for the industry to have continued opportunities to secure leases through a predictable leasing program.

Keep in mind that US lease blocks are the smallest in the offshore world, too small for optimal development in deepwater and frontier areas. The smaller the blocks, the greater the importance of regular lease sales. Pictured below is a 2017 graphic graphic which superimposes Kosmos Energy’s blocks off Senegal and Mauritania on the Central Gulf of Mexico.  Note that the six West African blocks encompass 36,000 sq km and are the equivalent of 1600 GoM lease blocks.  

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With regard to air emissions, the advantages of deepwater Gulf of Mexico production are rather obvious:

  • High production rates per well
  • Few surface facilities (57 deepwater platforms, 3% of GoM total, produce 90+% of oil)
  • Modern gas turbines for power generation
  • Tightly enforced restrictions on flaring and venting
  • Better control of fugitive emissions
  • Distant from shore (not a factor for GHG effects)

Wood Mackenzie, NOIA, and others contend that restrictions on GoM leasing are contrary to carbon reduction goals.

An important and unintended consequence of enacting more restrictive policies such as a lease ban or increase in royalty rate in the Gulf of Mexico is that it could give rise to carbon leakage to countries that export crude to US.

Wood Mackenzie
Chart: Emissions intensity for US crude importers. US Gulf of Mexico deepwater emissions are less intensive than all but one importer.

In light of the policy implications of GHG emissions, a Carbon Intensity Workshop is highly recommended. The estimates generated by Wood Mackenzie, Rystad, and others need to be explored in depth. Is data quality an issue? How are the data verified? Is there regulator or third party oversight? What are the assumptions behind the estimates? Also, for the purposes of US policy decisions, product transportation emissions should certainly be included. A barrel produced in the Middle East is not the same as a barrel produced in the GoM.

Looking at the chart above, I have immediate questions about the drilling emissions (blue). What wells are included? What about workovers and other well operations? I’m surprised that the deepwater GoM drilling emissions are so high relative to the other regions. While dynamically positioned MODUs have high fuel consumption rates, deepwater wells are few in number relative to shale drilling. Also, why are Brazil’s drilling emissions, which I assume are primarily associated with deepwater operations, so much lower that those for the GoM.

BOEM/BSEE and/or the Gulf Research Program (NASEM) would seem to be good sponsors for such a workshop.

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Congratulations to Bristow for winning the 2011 National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) Safety-in-Seas Award. Bristow, a helicopter company, was recognized for its “Target Zero” program.

I was honored to serve as one of the judges, and Bristow is a most deserving recipient of this prestigious award. To the best of my knowledge, the Safety-in-Seas program, which began in 1978, is the oldest safety award program for offshore oil and gas operations.

I would also like to congratulate the other Safety-in-Seas nominees. All of the nominations were outstanding. While we must learn from accidents and failures, we can also learn from successes. The achievements of outstanding companies and safety leaders deserve attention and recognition.

KATC.com provides more information on Bristow’s selection:

“Target Zero” is a comprehensive cultural and training system that seeks to achieve zero accidents, zero harm to people and zero harm to the environment across Bristow’s operations. Building on statistical data that indicated human error contributed to 4 out of 5 accidents or incidents, Bristow’s “Target Zero” has reduced the rate of air accidents in for example the Gulf of Mexico from 2 reportable air accidents and one air incident in 2007 to zero accidents or incidents, with similar results in subsequent years. Bristow has achieved a 47% improvement year on year in Lost Work-time Cases, with overall improvement from 2007 – 2009 of 88%. When it comes to the environment, Bristow’s “Target Zero has maintained a record of zero environmental incidents and has stepped up pro-active efforts to ensure this stays constant. 

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I am honored to be serving as one of the judges for this year’s Safety in Seas Award. As it has been every year since 1978, this prestigious award will be presented at NOIA’s Annual Meeting in April. To the best of my knowledge, Safety in Seas is the oldest safety award program for offshore oil and gas operations. This year’s nominations are very impressive. Congratulations to the participating companies and individuals!

I have had the pleasure of participating in other offshore safety awards programs including the Carolita Kallaur Awards and the MMS Safety Awards For Excellence (SAFE). Unfortunately, the latter program appears to have been suspended or terminated, presumably as a result of last year’s blowout.  That is unfortunate. The SAFE program was initiated in 1983, and District and National awards had been presented each year. The winners took great pride in their safety achievements. As many as 800 people packed the annual awards event in Houston to recognize the winners, promote safety achievement, and draw attention to safety issues.

Past achievements don’t guarantee future success in any endeavor, be it sports, the arts, business, or even politics. However, we don’t stop recognizing champions because they might fail in the future, we don’t stop presenting Academy Awards because future movies might be disappointing, and we don’t stop holding elections even though we never seem to get it right.

It’s been a tough five years for the US offshore industry – recovering from a series of major hurricanes and an unprecedented drilling blowout. Investigations continue and changes are necessarily being made. During these challenging times, positive recognition is more important than ever.  We must learn from successes as well as failures, and reinforce outstanding offshore safety leadership. I look forward to the presentation of the Safety in Seas Award and hope that SAFE program will resume in the near future, either under the direction of the Federal government or separately.

British-Borneo USA, Inc.

DOI Asst. Secretary Sylvia Baca and MMS Associate Director Carolita Kallaur present 2000 SAFE Award (moderate activity category) to British Borneo USA

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