Faqs / What is the “idle iron” policy and why does it exist?

What is the “idle iron” policy and why does it exist?

In October 2010, BSEE published Notice to Lessee (NTL) 2010-G05, “Decommissioning Guidance for Wells and Platforms” (sometimes referred to as the “Idle Iron” policy) to clarify existing regulations that apply when a well or platform is “no longer useful for operations,” and needs to be plugged (in the case of a well) or removed (in the case of platforms and other structures). NTL 2010-G05 clarifies that BSEE orders wells that were not useful (had not produced for five years) at the time the NTL was published to be plugged by October 2013. Any well that became “idle” or not useful for lease operations subsequent to the NTL’s publication is expected to be plugged no later than 3 years after the well became “idle.” The NTL also clarifies that BSEE will enforce the decommissioning of platforms considered “idle” or no longer useful at the time the NTL was published by October 2015. Any platform that became “idle” or not useful for lease operations subsequent to the NTL’s publication is expected to be decommissioned no later than 5 years after the platform became “idle.” Platforms affected by the “Idle Iron” NTL are decommissioned in accordance with OCSLA regulations as described in Q1. The final disposition of the material may be a scrap yard, fabrication yard, or an artificial reef site. In the wake of several destructive hurricanes between 2004 and 2008 that severely damaged active and inactive oil and gas infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico, BSEE published the “Idle Iron” policy so that inactive facilities and structures would not litter the Gulf of Mexico or threaten increased risks to the marine environment and navigation. Inactive wells and platforms are susceptible to the adverse effects of severe weather. Inactive platforms may topple during storms and cause significant environmental contamination (such as the release of hydrocarbons to the surrounding waters), damage operating infrastructure, and result in new navigation and safety hazards.