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BSEE Announces $3 Million in Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Help Decommission Orphaned Offshore Infrastructure

Thursday, June 8, 2023

WASHINGTON — Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Kevin Sligh announced a $3 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help reduce the risk of pollution from orphaned infrastructure on the federal Outer Continental Shelf. The funding will specifically support BSEE decommissioning service contracts in the Matagorda Island lease area in the Gulf of Mexico. The funds are part of a nearly $64 million commitment from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to address orphaned oil and gas wells on public lands announced by the Department of the Interior earlier today.

“The funding announced today under the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is critical for helping BSEE leverage available funds to tackle the backlog of decommissioning orphaned infrastructure offshore in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Director Sligh. “If not properly decommissioned, offshore oil and gas infrastructure can become safety hazards, cause environmental harm, or interfere with navigation, fishing, or other uses of the Outer Continental Shelf.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history, including through a $4.7 billion investment to plug orphaned oil and gas wells.

BSEE plans to award contracts to address nine orphan wells and associated pipelines and platforms in the Matagorda Island lease area, approximately 12 miles off the Texas coast. The initial contract will address the most immediate and urgent needs to reduce the risk of safety incidents and pollution in preparation for well-plugging operations.

An important part of BSEE’s responsibilities is to ensure that infrastructure used in exploration, development, and production activities undertaken according to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act is properly decommissioned to provide the long-term protection of the resource and the surrounding environment.

BSEE’s regulatory authority for OCS decommissioning is provided by 30 CFR 250, Subpart Q, Decommissioning Activities. For additional information regarding BSEE’s decommissioning requirements and activities, visit the Decommissioning page.

This year’s funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to five federal bureaus at the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture is part of an overall once-in-a-generation $16 billion investment in addressing legacy pollution across the nation that will create good-paying union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, improve public safety, and reduce harmful methane leaks. Methane emissions from many of these unplugged wells is a serious safety hazard and is a significant cause of climate change, being more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.