NOIA Sees Trump Administration as Friend to Offshore Energy

Speaking at the 40th Annual Marine/Offshore Industry Outlook Conference on March 30 in Houston, Texas, Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), gave a positive preview of what he expects from the Trump Administration in the coming months as well as a preview of NOIA’s 2017 Annual Meeting to be held April 5-7, in Washington, DC, and includes an appearance by Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Luthi was clear that he believes the entire U.S. Outer Continental Shelf should be opened to drilling: “Other countries get it. If they have the resources, they are going to look for oil and natural gas.”

He believes that it is important that lawmakers and regulators make sure that when the market allows investment, companies are free to do so. It’s not just about the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico either. Luthi also said the Arctic should be opened.

Referring to the election of President Trump, Luthi said, “We were promised a new attitude, something very different from Washington, DC—and I can tell you, we’ve gotten exactly that. On the energy front, it’s been fantastic change.”

While Luthi expects delays over Trump nominations, he cited new Interior Secretary Zinke as a friend to industry: “I’m very excited about what he’s going to do because he does have big plans.”

Among those big plans, Luthi says, is moving NOAA from the Department of Commerce to DOI. Luthi also said that Zinke wants to decentralize DOI, so that the Gulf region could soon be making more decisions about its own offshore resources.

“For [the] offshore industry, the two most important positions to be named will be the director of BSEE and the director of BOEM. Neither one has been named yet…but I can tell you that I haven’t heard a name that would not be a marvelous person.”

Luthi predicted that DOI would move to combine BOEM and BSEE. He said that confusion over who has jurisdiction could be reduced, but that the move would take time and cost political capital. Luthi expects changes in BOEM’s Five Year Plan soon and supports other regulatory changes by the Trump Administration, including a proposal to eliminate two regulations for every regulation introduced, saying the result would be a less-redundant comment process. He applauded repeal of DOI’s Royalty Valuation Rule, which he says would have created regulatory uncertainty for offshore industry, and Trump’s roll-back of the Clean Power Plan, saying “Our energy future relies on the ability to actually develop energy resources.”

Commenting on the recent stay on BOEM’s Financial Assurance Requirements (to help pay for removing abandoned oil and gas platforms), Luthi said he expects the stay to remain in effect until industry and regulators sit down and figure out “how to decide how much money we need to put forward with bonding.”

He added, “There are some facilities out there that need removed that do not have a financially viable owner, but the threat is pretty small. We want to make sure it never happens. And industry needs to be a leader. We need to show the federal government that we know how to prevent that from happening, rather than them telling us what to do.”

On the Air Quality Rule, Luthi said that no studies show that offshore activities are impacting onshore air quality. He made a similar brief reference to seismic regulations, citing a lack of science. As he looked around at the industry members in attendance, Luthi concluded with, “Most people actually like the energy industry. They backed candidates that were energy-friendly. Most people think offshore development is a good thing. Most people think access means more jobs, meaning the more you develop energy, the more jobs there will be. And despite some of the louder protests you may hear, I want you to know, you’ve got the American people behind you.”

By: Greg Leatherman, ONT Managing Editor


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