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by this part. The Director is authorized to issue OCS Orders and other written and oral orders and to take all other actions necessary to carry out the provisions of this part and to prevent harm or damage to, or waste of, any natural resource (including any mineral deposit in areas leased or not leased), any life (including fish and other aquatic life), property, or the marine, coastal, or human environment. The Director shall confirm oral orders in writing as soon as possible.
§ 251.3-3 Geological and geophysical activities under a lease.
The regulations in this part shall not apply to geological and geophysical exploration conducted by or on behalf of the lessee on a lease on the OCS. Those exploration activities shall be governed by the regulations in part 250 of this title.
§ 251.3-4 Geological and geophysical activities not under a lease.
The regulations in this part are applicable to permits for geological and geophysical activities issued after or unexpired as of the effective date of this final rule. Notices filed after the effective date of this final rule shall also be subject to the regulations in this part. If the regulations in this part conflict with the provisions of a permit which was issued under regulations published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on June 23, 1976 (41 FR 25893), the requirements of the permit shall govern, except for any requirements limiting the Director's authority to inspect and require the submission of interpretations derived from information and data acquired under those permits issued after January 27, 1978, as established by part 252 of this title.
§ 251.3-5 General requirements of notices and permits.
(a) Geological or geophysical activities for mineral exploration or scientific research activities authorized under this part shall be conducted so that those activities do not:
(1) Interfere with or endanger operations under any lease issued or maintained pursuant to the Act;
(2) Cause harm or damage to aquatic
(3) Cause pollution;
(4) Create hazardous or unsafe conditions;
(5) Unreasonably interfere with or harm other uses of the area; or
(6) Disturb cultural resources.
(b) Any person conducting geological or geophysical activities for mineral exploration or scientific research under this part shall immediately report to the Director when these activities:
(1) Detect hydrocarbon occurrences; (2) Encounter evironmental hazards which constitute an imminent threat to human activity; or
(3) Adversely affect the environment, aquatic life, cultural resources, or other uses of the area in which the exploration activity is conducted.
(c) Any person conducting shallow test drilling or deep stratigraphic test drilling geological activities under a permit for mineral exploration or scientific research under this part shall utilize the best available and safest technologies which the Director determines to be economically feasible.
(d) Authorization granted under this part to conduct geological and geophysical exploration for minerals or for scientific research shall not confer a right to any discovered oil, gas, or other minerals, or to a lease under the Act.
§ 251.4 Geological and geophysical activities requiring notices or permits.
§ 251.4-1 Geological and geophysical ex
ploration for mineral resources.
Geological or geophysical exploration for mineral resources may not be conducted on the OCS without an approved permit unless such activities are being conducted pursuant to a lease issued or maintained under the Act. Separate permits must be obtained for geological exploration for mineral resources and for geophysical exploration for mineral resources. If the Director disapproves an application, the statement of rejection shall state the reasons for the denial, and shall advise the applicant of those changes needed to obtain approval.
§ 251.4-2 Geological or geophysical scientific research.
Geological or geophysical scientific research may not be conducted by any person on the OCS without an approved permit or filing of a notice unless such activities are being conducted pursuant to a lease issued or maintained under the Act.
(a) Separate permits must be obtained for geological scientific research and for geophysical scientific research which involves the use of solid or liquid explosives or the drilling of a deep stratigraphic test. If the Director disapproves an application, the statement of rejection shall state the reasons for the denial, and shall advise the applicant of the changes needed to obtain approval.
(b) A notice must be filed with the Director at least 30 days prior to the commencement of scientific research activities which involve shallow test drilling. Within 21 days of the filing of the notice, the Director may disapprove the notice by sending a statement of disapproval by certified mail to the person who filed the notice. If the Director disapproves the notice, the statement shall state the reasons for disapproval and shall advise the applicant of recommended changes.
§ 251.5 Applying for notices or permits.
§ 251.5-1 Permit forms.
(a) An application for a permit shall be submitted in a form and manner prescribed and approved by the Director. Each application for a permit shall include:
(1) The name of any person who will conduct the proposed exploration or research activity;
(2) The name of any person who will participate in the proposed exploration or research activity;
(3) The type of exploration or research activity and the manner in which the activity will be conducted;
(4) The location on the OCS where the exploration or research activity will be conducted;
(5) The purpose for conducting the exploration or research activity;
(6) The dates on which the exploration or research activity is proposed to be commenced and completed; and,
(7) Such other relevant information and data as the Director may require.
[45 FR 6344, Jan. 25, 1980, as amended at 53 FR 24688, June 30, 1988]
§ 251.5-2 Notices.
A notice shall not be on a standardized form, but shall be signed and shall state:
(a) The name of the person conducting or participating in the proposed research;
(b) The type of research and manner in which it will be conducted;
(c) The location, designated on a map, plat, or chart, where the research will be conducted;
(d) The dates, which shall designate a period of not more than 1 year, on which the research activity is proposed to be commenced and completed;
(e) The proposed time and manner in which the information and data resulting from the research will be made available to the public for inspection and reproduction, such time being the earliest practicable time;
(f) An agreement that the information and data resulting from the research will not be sold or withheld for exclusive use; and
(g) The name, registry number, registered owner, and port of registry of vessels used in the operation.
§ 251.5-3 Filing locations for permits to conduct exploration for mineral re
ington-the Regional Supervisor for Resource Evaluation, Minerals Management Service, Pacific OCS Region, 1340 West Sixth Street, Los Angeles, California 90017.
(d) For the OCS off the State of Alaska-the Regional Supervisor for Resource Evaluation, Minerals Management Service, Alaska OCS Region, 949 East 36th Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska 99508.
[53 FR 4392, Feb. 16, 1988, as amended at 54 FR 50617, Dec. 8, 1989]
§ 251.5-4 Filing locations for notices or permits to conduct scientific research. Each notice or application for a permit to conduct geological or geophysical scientific research on the OCS shall be filed, in duplicate, at the locations indicated in § 251.5-3 of this part.
§ 251.6 Test drilling activities.
§ 251.6-1 Permit or notice requirements for shallow test drilling.
The Director, prior to the commencement of shallow test drilling for exploration for mineral resources or for scientific research, may require for permits or recommend for notices the gathering and submission of geophysical information and data sufficient to determine shallow structural detail across and in the vicinity of the proposed test. Other information and data may include, but is not limited to, seismic, bathymetric, side-scan sonar, and magnetometer systems, across and in the vicinity of the proposed test. When required, §§ 251.6-2 (c)(1) and (e) and 251.6-3 will apply to permits issued and notices filed for shallow test drilling.
§ 251.6-2 Permit requirements for a deep stratigraphic test.
(a) No deep stratigraphic test drilling activities shall be initiated or conducted until a Drilling Plan has been submitted by the applicant and approved by the Director. The Drilling Plan shall include:
(1) The proposed type and sequence of drilling activities to be undertaken together with a timetable for their performance from commencement to completion;
(2) A description of the drilling rig proposed for use, unless a description has been previously submitted to the Director, indicating the important features thereof, with special attention to safety features and pollution prevention and control features, including oil spill containment and cleanup plans and onshore disposal procedures;
(3) The location of each deep stratigraphic test to be conducted, including the surface and projected bottomhole location of the borehole;
(4) The types of geophysical instrumentation to be used;
(5) Geophysical information and data sufficient to evaluate seafloor characteristics, shallow geologic hazards, and structural detail across and in the vicinity of the proposed test to the total depth of the proposed test well. Data and information from sidescan sonar and magnetometer surveys shall be submitted as required, at the option of the Director; and
(6) Such other relevant information and data as the Director may require.
(b) At the same time the applicant submits a Drilling Plan to the Director, an Environmental Report shall be submitted. The report shall be in summary form and should include information available at the time the related Drilling Plan is submitted. Information and data which are site-specific or which are developed subsequent to the most recent environmental impact statement or other environmental impact statements and analyses in the immediate area, shall be specifically considered. In order to eliminate the repetition of information and data discussed in the related plan, a broader presale environmental impact statement, other Environmental Reports, environmental analyses, or impact statements prepared for the geographic area, the applicant shall summarize the information, data, and issues in such other documents and concentrate on the issues specific to the site(s) of drilling activity. Discussions contained in the other documents shall be referenced when incorporation will cause a decrease in bulk without impeding review of the issues. The material referred to shall be cited and described briefly in the Environmental Report and include a statement of where the
material is reasonably available for inspection. Any material based on proprietary data which is not itself available for inspection shall not be referenced. The Environmental Report shall include the following:
(1)(i) A list and description of new or unusual technologies that are to be used; (ii) the location of travel routes for supplies and personnel; (iii) the kinds and approximate quantities of energy to be used; (iv) the environmental monitoring systems that are to be used; and (v) suitable maps and diagrams showing details of the proposed project layout.
(2) A narrative description of the existing environment. This section shall include the following information on the area: (i) Geology; (ii) physical oceanography; (iii) other uses of the area; (iv) flora and fauna; (v) existing environmental monitoring systems; and (vi) other unusual or unique characteristics which may affect or be affected by the drilling activities.
(3) A narrative description of the probable impacts of the proposed action on the environment and the measures proposed for mitigating these impacts.
(4) A narrative description of any unavoidable or irreversible adverse effects on the environment that could be expected to occur as a result of the proposed action.
(5) Such other relevant information and data as the Director may require. (c)(1) When required under a coastal zone management program approved under the Coastal Zone Management Act, the activities proposed by an applicant for a permit to conduct geological or geophysical exploration for minerals or for geological or geophysical scientific research must receive State concurrence in its coastal zone consistency certification prior to the Director's approval of any of the activities covered under the permit.
(2) The applicant shall submit a sufficient number of copies of the Drilling Plan and Environmental Report to permit the Director to transmit copies of each to the Governor of each affected State and the coastal zone management agency of each affected State that has a coastal zone management program approved under the Coastal
Zone Management Act. The Director shall also make the Drilling Plan and accompanying Environmental Report available to appropriate Federal agencies and the public, in accordance with established Departmental practices and procedures.
(d) Any revisions to an approved Drilling Plan must be approved by the Director.
(e) A permittee authorized to drill a deep stratigraphic test shall, if requested by the Director, conduct studies to determine whether any cultural resources exist in the area that may be affected by such drilling, and shall report the findings of those studies to the Director. A permittee authorized to perform shallow test drilling may be required to conduct similar studies if required by the Director. The study shall include a full description of any cultural resources detected. The permittee shall take no action that will result in the disturbance of cultural resources without the prior approval of the Director and, if any cultural resource is discovered after submission of the study (i.e., during site preparation or drilling), the permittee shall immediately report the discovery to the Director and make every reasonable effort to protect the cultural resource from damage until the Director has given directions as to its preservation.
(f) All OCS regulations relating to drilling operations in part 250 of this title and all OCS Orders relating to the drilling of wells apply, as appropriate, to drilling activities authorized under this part.
(g) At the completion of the test activities, the borehole of all deep stratigraphic tests shall be permanently plugged and abandoned by the permittee prior to moving the rig off location in accordance with the requirements of the regulations in part 250 of this chapter and applicable orders. If the tract on which deep stratigraphic test drilling has been conducted is later leased for exploration and development, the lessee will not be held responsible for the test hole, provided the lessee has not reentered or otherwise disturbed the borehole.
[45 FR 6344, Jan. 25, 1980, as amended at 48 FR 54008, Nov. 30, 1983; 48 FR 55457, Dec. 13, 1983]
§ 251.6-3 Group participation in test drilling activities.
(a) In order to minimize duplicative geological exploration activities involving the penetration of the seabed of the OCS, a person proposing to drill a deep stratigraphic test shall afford all interested persons, through a signed agreement, an opportunity to participate in the drilling on a cost-sharing basis. The provisions of the agreement for sharing the cost of a deep stratigraphic test may include a penalty for late participants of not more than 100 percent of the cost to each original participant in addition to the original share cost. The participants shall assess and distribute penalties in accordance with the terms of the agreement. If the Director releases a public notice announcing a significant hydrocarbon occurrence, the penalty for subsequent late participants may be raised to not more than 300 percent of the cost of each original participant in addition to the original share cost.
(b) An applicant proposing to conduct shallow test drilling activities shall, when ordered by the Director or when provided in the permit, afford all interested persons an opportunity to participate in the test activity on a cost-sharing basis with a penalty for late participation of not more than 50 percent of the cost to each original participant.
(c) To allow for group participation in shallow or deep test drilling activities, the applicant shall:
(1) Publish a summary statement describing the proposed activity in a manner approved or prescribed by the Director;
(2) Forward a copy of the published statement to the Director;
(3) Allow at least 30 days from the date of publishing the summary statement for other persons to join as original participants;
(4) Compute the estimated cost to an original participant by dividing the estimated total cost of the program by the number of original participants; and
(5) Furnish the Director with a complete list of all participants under the permit prior to commencing operations, or at the end of the advertising period if operations begin prior to its close. Also, the names of all late participants shall be forwarded to the Director.
(d) If the applicant proposes changes to the original application and the Director determines that such changes are significant, the Director shall require a republication of the changes and an additional 30 days for other persons to join as original participants.
[45 FR 6344, Jan. 25, 1980, as amended at 54 FR 50617, Dec. 8, 1989]
Before a permit authorizing the drilling of a deep stratigraphic test will be issued, the applicant shall furnish to the Minerals Management Service a corporate surety bond of not less than $50,000 conditioned on compliance with the terms of the permit, unless the applicant maintains with or furnishes to the Minerals Management Service a bond in the sum of $300,000 conditioned on compliance with the terms of the permit issued to him for the area of the OCS where the applicant proposes to conduct the drilling of a deep stratigraphic test. The Director may require the submission of a bond before authorizing the initiation of shallow test drilling. Any bond furnished or maintained by a person under this section shall be on a form approved or prescribed by the Director, Minerals Management Service.
[45 FR 6344, Jan. 25, 1980, as amended at 48 FR 54008, Nov. 30, 1983]
§ 251.6-5 Duration of exploration activities.
If a deep stratigraphic test well is drilled within 50 geographic miles of any tract within the area identified for consideration for leasing as listed on the currently approved OCS Leasing Schedule, all drilling activities must be completed, and the information and data submitted to the Director at least 60 days prior to the first day of the month in which the lease