The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1348(c)) requires BSEE to conduct onsite inspections to assure compliance with lease terms, NTL's, and approved plans, and to assure that safety and pollution-prevention requirements of regulations are met. Further information on the baseline for the inspection of lessee operations and facilities can be found in the National Potential Incident of Noncompliance (PINC) List. Noncompliance with checklist requirements for specific installations or procedures is followed by prescribed enforcement actions consisting of written warnings or shut-ins of platforms, zones (wells), equipment, or pipelines. In the event of noncompliance, the inspector takes the appropriate enforcement action dictated by the National PINC List.
If an operator is found in violation of a safety or environmental requirement, a citation is issued requiring that it be fixed within 14 days. The violation may call for the particular well component, production component, or the entire complex to be shut in.
The primary objective of initial inspections is to assure proper installation of mobile units or structures and associated equipment. After operations begin, additional announced and unannounced inspections are conducted. Surprise unannounced inspections are conducted to foster a climate of safe operations, to maintain a BSEE presence, and to focus on operators with a poor performance record. They are also conducted after a critical safety feature has previously been found defective. Depending on the distance from shore and other factors such as weather and proximity to other inspections, each BSEE district inspector will inspect from one to three different drilling rigs or platforms per day. Aerial surveillance of additional offshore structures is conducted enroute. Annual inspections are conducted on all platforms, but more frequent inspections may be conducted on rigs and platforms. On-board inspections involve all safety systems of a production platform.
In the interest of efficient and effective utilization of inspection resources, random sampling techniques are being evaluated for the selection of specific items for inspection from the national PINC list and a production platform's component list.
Suspension of Operations- The OCSLA, as amended (43 U.S.C. 1334(a)(1)), and regulations appearing at 30 CFR 250.10 provide for the suspension or temporary prohibition of an operation or activity when the suspension is in the national interest and when the suspension is necessary based on any of the conditions given at 30 CFR 250.10(a) through (c).
Cancellation of Leases- The OCSLA (43 U.S.C. 1334(a)(2)) and regulations at 30 CFR 250.12 authorize the Secretary to cancel a lease or permit if, after opportunity and notice for a hearing, he determines (1) continued activity would probably cause serious harm or damage to life, property, the environment, or national security or defense; (2) the threat of harm or damage will not disappear or decrease to an acceptable extent within a reasonable time; (3) the advantages of cancellation outweigh the advantages of continued activity; and (4) the suspension has been in effect for at least 5 years or the termination of suspension and lease cancellation are at the request of the lessee.
Remedies and Penalties- Under 43 U.S.C. 1350(b) of the OCSLA, as amended, and regulations appearing at 30 CFR 250.200-250.206, civil penalties can be assessed for failure to comply with responsibilities under the law, a license, a permit, or any regulation or order issued pursuant to the Act. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 changed the way the Bureau will address civil penalties and remedies. Civil penalties are now issued for serious violations. If the violation is serious enough and is found to be a knowing and willful violation, BSEE may recommend that the matter be referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution (43 U.S.C. 1350(c)). The issuance and continuance in effect of any lease or of any assignment or other transfer of any lease shall be conditioned upon compliance with regulations issued under the OCSLA.