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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of March 30, 2020

Title 30Chapter VSubchapter B → Part 551


Title 30: Mineral Resources


PART 551—GEOLOGICAL AND GEOPHYSICAL (G&G) EXPLORATIONS OF THE OUTER CONTINENTAL SHELF


Contents
§551.1   Definitions.
§551.2   Purpose of this part.
§551.3   Authority and applicability of this part.
§551.4   Types of G&G activities that require permits or Notices.
§551.5   Applying for permits or filing Notices.
§551.6   Obligations and rights under a permit or a Notice.
§551.7   Test drilling activities under a permit.
§551.8   Inspection and reporting requirements for activities under a permit.
§551.9   Temporarily stopping, canceling, or relinquishing activities approved under a permit.
§551.10   Penalties and appeals.
§551.11   Submission, inspection, and selection of geological data and information collected under a permit and processed by permittees or third parties.
§551.12   Submission, inspection, and selection of geophysical data and information collected under a permit and processed by permittees or third parties.
§551.13   Reimbursement for the costs of reproducing data and information and certain processing costs.
§551.14   Protecting and disclosing data and information submitted to BOEM under a permit.
§551.15   Authority for information collection.

Authority: Section 104, Public Law 97-451, 96 Stat. 2451 (30 U.S.C. 1714), Public Law 109-432, Div C, Title I, 120 Stat. 3000; 30 U.S.C. 1751; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 43 U.S.C. 1334; 33 U.S.C. 2704, 2716; E.O. 12777, as amended; 43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq., 43 U.S.C. 1337.

Source: 76 FR 64623, Oct. 18, 2011, unless otherwise noted.

§551.1   Definitions.

Terms used in this part have the following meaning:

Act means the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), as amended (43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq.).

Analyzed geological information means data collected under a permit or a lease that have been analyzed. Analysis may include, but is not limited to, identification of lithologic and fossil content, core analyses, laboratory analyses of physical and chemical properties, well logs or charts, results from formation fluid tests, and descriptions of hydrocarbon occurrences or hazardous conditions.

Archaeological interest means capable of providing scientific or humanistic understanding of past human behavior, cultural adaptation, and related topics through the application of scientific or scholarly techniques, such as controlled observation, contextual measurements, controlled collection, analysis, interpretation, and explanation.

Archaeological resources mean any material remains of human life or activities that are at least 50 years of age and of archaeological interest.

Coastal environment means the physical, atmospheric, and biological components, conditions, and factors that interactively determine the productivity, state, condition, and quality of the terrestrial ecosystem from the shoreline inward to the boundaries of the coastal zone.

Coastal Zone means the coastal waters (including the lands therein and thereunder) and the adjacent shorelands (including the waters therein and thereunder), strongly influenced by each other and in proximity to the shorelines of the several coastal States and extends seaward to the outer limit of the U.S. territorial sea.

Coastal Zone Management Act means the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.).

Data means facts, statistics, measurements, or samples that have not been analyzed, processed, or interpreted.

Deep stratigraphic test means drilling that involves the penetration into the sea bottom of more than 500 feet (152 meters).

Director means the Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, or a subordinate authorized to act on the Director's behalf.

Exploration means the commercial search for oil, gas, and sulphur. Activities classified as exploration include, but are not limited to:

(1) Geological and geophysical marine and airborne surveys where magnetic, gravity, seismic reflection, seismic refraction, gas sniffers, coring, or other systems are used to detect or imply the presence of oil, gas, or sulphur; and

(2) Any drilling, whether on or off a geological structure.

Geological and geophysical scientific research means any oil, gas, or sulphur related investigation conducted in the OCS for scientific and/or research purposes. Geological, geophysical, and geochemical data and information gathered and analyzed are made available to the public for inspection and reproduction at the earliest practicable time. The term does not include commercial geological or geophysical exploration or research.

Geological exploration means exploration that uses geological and geochemical techniques (e.g., coring and test drilling, well logging, and bottom sampling) to produce data and information on oil, gas, and sulphur resources in support of possible exploration and development activities. The term does not include geological scientific research.

Geological information means geological or geochemical data that have been analyzed, processed, or interpreted.

Geophysical data means measurements that have not been processed or interpreted.

Geophysical exploration means exploration that utilizes geophysical techniques (e.g., gravity, magnetic, electromagnetic, or seismic) to produce data and information on oil, gas, and sulphur resources in support of possible exploration and development activities. The term does not include geophysical scientific research.

Geophysical information means geophysical data that have been processed or interpreted.

Governor means the Governor of a State or the person or entity lawfully designated to exercise the powers granted to a Governor pursuant to the Act.

Human environment means the physical, social, and economic components, conditions, and factors which interactively determine the state, condition, and quality of living conditions, employment, and health of those affected, directly or indirectly, by activities occurring on the OCS.

Hydrocarbon occurrence means the direct or indirect detection during drilling operations of any liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons by examination of well cuttings, cores, gas detector readings, formation fluid tests, wireline logs, or by any other means. The term does not include background gas, minor accumulations of gas, or heavy oil residues on cuttings and cores.

Interpreted geological information means knowledge, often in the form of schematic cross sections, 3-dimensional representations, and maps, developed by determining the geological significance of geological data and analyzed and processed geologic information.

Interpreted geophysical information means knowledge, often in the form of seismic cross sections, 3-dimensional representations, and maps, developed by determining the geological significance of geophysical data and processed geophysical information.

Lease means an agreement which is issued under section 8 or maintained under section 6 of the Act and which authorizes exploration for, and development and production of, minerals or the area covered by that authorization, whichever is required by the context.

Lessee means a person who has entered into, or is the BOEM approved assignee of, a lease with the United States to explore for, develop, and produce the leased minerals. The term “lessee” also includes an owner of operating rights.

Marine environment means the physical, atmospheric, and biological components, conditions, and factors that interactively determine the quality of the marine ecosystem in the coastal zone and in the OCS.

Material remains mean physical evidence of human habitation, occupation, use, or activity, including the site, location, or context in which such evidence is situated.

Minerals mean oil, gas, sulphur, geopressured-geothermal and associated resources, and all other minerals which are authorized by an Act of Congress to be produced from public lands as defined in section 103 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1702).

Notice means a written statement of intent to conduct geological or geophysical scientific research related to oil, gas, and sulphur in the OCS other than under a permit.

Oil, gas, and sulphur means oil, gas, sulphur, geopressured-geothermal, and associated resources.

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) means all submerged lands lying seaward and outside the area of lands beneath navigable waters as defined in section 2 of the Submerged Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1301), and of which the subsoil and seabed appertain to the United States and are subject to its jurisdiction and control.

Permit means the contract or agreement, other than a lease, issued pursuant to this part, under which a person acquires the right to conduct on the OCS, in accordance with appropriate statutes, regulations, and stipulations:

(1) Geological exploration for mineral resources;

(2) Geophysical exploration for mineral resources;

(3) Geological scientific research; or

(4) Geophysical scientific research.

Permittee means the person authorized by a permit issued pursuant to this part to conduct activities on the OCS.

Person means a citizen or national of the United States; an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States as defined in section 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(20); a private, public, or municipal corporation organized under the laws of the United States or of any State or territory thereof; and associations of such citizens, nationals, resident aliens, or private, public, or municipal corporations, States, or political subdivisions of States or anyone operating in a manner provided for by treaty or other applicable international agreements. The term does not include Federal agencies.

Processed geological or geophysical information means data collected under a permit and later processed or reprocessed. Processing involves changing the form of data so as to facilitate interpretation. Processing operations may include, but are not limited to, applying corrections for known perturbing causes, rearranging or filtering data, and combining or transforming data elements. Reprocessing is the additional processing other than ordinary processing used in the general course of evaluation. Reprocessing operations may include varying identified parameters for the detailed study of a specific problem area. Reprocessing may occur several years after the original processing date. Reprocessing is determined to be completed on the date that the reprocessed information is first available in a useable format for in-house interpretation by BOEM or the permittee, or becomes first available to third parties via sale, trade, license agreement, or other means.

Secretary means the Secretary of the Interior or a subordinate authorized to act on the Secretary's behalf.

Shallow test drilling means drilling into the sea bottom to depths less than those specified in the definition of a deep stratigraphic test.

Significant archaeological resource means those archaeological resources that meet the criteria of significance for eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places as defined in 36 CFR 60.4.

Third Party means any person other than the permittee or a representative of the United States, including all persons who obtain data or information acquired under a permit from the permittee, or from another third party, by sale, trade, license agreement, or other means.

Violation means a failure to comply with any provision of the Act, or a provision of a regulation or order issued under the Act, or any provision of a lease, license, or permit issued under the Act.

You means a person who applies for and/or obtains a permit, or files a Notice to conduct geological or geophysical exploration or scientific research related to oil, gas, and sulphur in the OCS.

§551.2   Purpose of this part.

(a) To allow you to conduct G&G activities in the OCS related to oil, gas, and sulphur on unleased lands or on lands under lease to a third party.

(b) To ensure that you carry out G&G activities in a safe and environmentally sound manner so as to prevent harm or damage to, or waste of, any natural resources (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.

(c) To inform you and third parties of your legal and contractual obligations.

(d) To inform you and third parties of the U.S. Government's rights to access G&G data and information collected under permit in the OCS, reimbursement for submittal of data and information, and the proprietary terms of data and information submitted to, and retained by, BOEM.

§551.3   Authority and applicability of this part.

BOEM authorizes you to conduct exploration or scientific research activities under this part in accordance with the Act, the regulations in this part, orders of the Director/Regional Director, and other applicable statutes, regulations, and amendments.

(a) This part does not apply to G&G exploration conducted by or on behalf of the lessee on a lease in the OCS. Refer to 30 CFR part 250 if you plan to conduct G&G activities related to oil, gas, or sulphur under terms of a lease.

(b) Federal agencies are exempt from the regulations in this part.

(c) G&G exploration or G&G scientific research related to minerals other than oil, gas, and sulphur is covered by regulations at 30 CFR part 580.

§551.4   Types of G&G activities that require permits or Notices.

(a) Exploration. You must have a BOEM-approved permit to conduct G&G exploration, including deep stratigraphic tests, for oil, gas, or sulphur resources. If you conduct both geological and geophysical exploration, you must have a separate permit for each.

(b) Scientific research. You may only conduct G&G scientific research related to oil, gas, and sulphur in the OCS after you obtain a BOEM-approved permit or file a Notice.

(1) Permit. You must obtain a permit if the research activities you propose to conduct involve:

(i) Using solid or liquid explosives;

(ii) Drilling a deep stratigraphic test; or

(iii) Developing data and information for proprietary use or sale.

(2) Notice. Any other G&G scientific research that you conduct related to oil, gas, and sulphur in the OCS requires you to file a Notice with the Regional Director at least 30 days before you begin. If circumstances preclude a 30-day Notice, you must provide oral notification and followup in writing. You must also inform BOEM in writing when you conclude your work.

§551.5   Applying for permits or filing Notices.

(a) Permits. You must submit a signed original and three copies of the BOEM permit application form (Form BOEM-0327). The form includes names of persons; the type, location, purpose, and dates of activity; and environmental and other information. A nonrefundable service fee of $2,012 must be paid electronically through Pay.gov at: https://www.pay.gov/paygov/, and you must include a copy of the Pay.gov confirmation receipt page with your application.

(b) Disapproval of permit application. If BOEM disapproves your application for a permit, the Regional Director will state the reasons for the denial and will advise you of the changes needed to obtain approval.

(c) Notices. You must sign and date a Notice and state:

(1) The name(s) of the person(s) who will conduct the proposed research;

(2) The name(s) of any other person(s) participating in the proposed research, including the sponsor;

(3) The type of research and a brief description of how you will conduct it;

(4) The location in the OCS, indicated on a map, plat, or chart, where you will conduct research;

(5) The proposed dates you project for your research activity to start and end;

(6) The name, registry number, registered owner, and port of registry of vessels used in the operation;

(7) The earliest practicable time you expect to make the data and information resulting from your research activity available to the public;

(8) Your plan of how you will make the data and information you collected available to the public;

(9) That you and others involved will not sell or withhold for exclusive use the data and information resulting from your research; and

(10) At your option, you may submit (as a substitute for the material required in paragraphs (c)(7), (c)(8), and (c)(9) of this section) the nonexclusive use agreement for scientific research attachment to Form BOEM-0327.

(d) Filing locations. You must apply for a permit or file a Notice at one of the following locations:

(1) For the OCS off the State of Alaska—the Regional Supervisor for Resource Evaluation, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Alaska OCS Region, 3801 Centerpoint Drive, Suite 500, Anchorage, Alaska 99503.

(2) For the OCS off the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico—the Regional Supervisor for Resource Evaluation, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana 70123-2394.

(3) For the OCS off the coast of the States of California, Oregon, Washington, or Hawaii—the Regional Supervisor for Resource Evaluation, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Pacific OCS Region, 760 Paseo Camarillo, Suite 102 (CM 102), Camarillo, California 93010.

[76 FR 64623, Oct. 18, 2011, as amended at 80 FR 57096, Sept. 22, 2015]

§551.6   Obligations and rights under a permit or a Notice.

While conducting G&G exploration or scientific research activities under BOEM permit or Notice:

(a) You must not:

(1) Interfere with or endanger operations under any lease, right-of-way, easement, right-of-use, Notice, or permit issued or maintained under the Act;

(2) Cause harm or damage to life (including fish and other aquatic life), property, or to the marine, coastal, or human environment;

(3) Cause harm or damage to any mineral resource (in areas leased or not leased);

(4) Cause pollution;

(5) Disturb archaeological resources;

(6) Create hazardous or unsafe conditions; or

(7) Unreasonably interfere with or cause harm to other uses of the area.

(b) You must immediately report to the Regional Director if you:

(1) Detect hydrocarbon occurrences;

(2) Detect environmental hazards which imminently threaten life and property; or

(3) Adversely affect the environment, aquatic life, archaeological resources, or other uses of the area where you are conducting exploration or scientific research activities.

(c) You must also consult and coordinate your G&G activities with other users of the area for navigation and safety purposes.

(d) Any persons conducting shallow test drilling or deep stratigraphic test drilling activities under a permit must use the best available and safest technologies that the Regional Director determines to be economically feasible.

(e) You may not claim any oil, gas, sulphur, or other minerals you discover while conducting operations under a permit or Notice.

§551.7   Test drilling activities under a permit.

(a) Shallow test drilling. Before you begin shallow test drilling under a permit, the Regional Director may require you to:

(1) Gather and submit seismic, bathymetric, sidescan sonar, magnetometer, or other geophysical data and information to determine shallow structural detail across and in the vicinity of the proposed test.

(2) Submit information for coastal zone consistency certification according to paragraphs (b)(3) and (4) of this section, and for protecting archaeological resources according to paragraph (b)(5) of this section.

(3) Allow all interested parties the opportunity to participate in the shallow test according to paragraph (c) of this section, and meet bonding requirements according to paragraph (d) of this section.

(b) Deep stratigraphic tests. You must submit to the appropriate BOEM or BSEE Regional Director, at the address in §551.7(d), a drilling plan (submitted to BOEM), an environmental report (submitted to BOEM), an Application for Permit to Drill (Form BSEE-0123) (submitted to BSEE), and a Supplemental APD Information Sheet (Form BSEE-0123S) (submitted to BSEE) as follows:

(1) Drilling plan. The drilling plan must include:

(i) The proposed type, sequence, and timetable of drilling activities;

(ii) A description of your drilling rig, indicating the important features with special attention to safety, pollution prevention, oil-spill containment and cleanup plans, and onshore disposal procedures;

(iii) The location of each deep stratigraphic test you will conduct, including the location of the surface and projected bottomhole of the borehole;

(iv) The types of geological and geophysical survey instruments you will use before and during drilling;

(v) Seismic, bathymetric, sidescan sonar, magnetometer, or other geophysical data and information 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; and

(vi) Other relevant data and information that the BOEM Regional Director requires.

(2) Environmental report. The environmental report must include all of the following material:

(i) A summary with data and information available at the time you submitted the related drilling plan. BOEM will consider site-specific data and information developed since the most recent environmental impact statement or other environmental impact analysis in the immediate area. The summary must meet the following requirements:

(A) You must concentrate on the issues specific to the site(s) of drilling activity. However, you only need to summarize data and information discussed in any environmental reports, analyses, or impact statements prepared for the geographic area of the drilling activity.

(B) You must list referenced material. Include brief descriptions and a statement of where the material is available for inspection.

(C) You must refer only to data that are available to BOEM.

(ii) Details about your project such as:

(A) A list and description of new or unusual technologies;

(B) The location of travel routes for supplies and personnel;

(C) The kinds and approximate levels of energy sources;

(D) The environmental monitoring systems; and

(E) Suitable maps and diagrams showing details of the proposed project layout.

(iii) A description of the existing environment. For this section, you must include the following information on the area:

(A) Geology;

(B) Physical oceanography;

(C) Other uses of the area;

(D) Flora and fauna;

(E) Existing environmental monitoring systems; and

(F) Other unusual or unique characteristics that may affect or be affected by the drilling activities.

(iv) A description of the probable impacts of the proposed action on the environment and the measures you propose for mitigating these impacts.

(v) A description of any unavoidable or irreversible adverse effects on the environment that could occur.

(vi) Other relevant data that the BOEM Regional Director requires.

(3) Copies for coastal States. You must submit copies of the drilling plan and environmental report to the BOEM Regional Director for transmittal to the Governor of each affected coastal State and the coastal zone management agency of each affected coastal State that has an approved program under the Coastal Zone Management Act. (BOEM Regional Director will make the drilling plan and environmental report available to appropriate Federal agencies and the public according to the Department of the Interior's policies and procedures).

(4) Certification of coastal zone management program consistency and State concurrence. When required under an approved coastal zone management program of an affected State, your drilling plan must include a certification that the proposed activities described in the plan comply with enforceable policies of, and will be conducted in a manner consistent with such State's program. BOEM Regional Director may not approve any of the activities described in the drilling plan unless the State concurs with the consistency certification or the Secretary of Commerce makes the finding authorized by section 307(c)(3)(B)(iii) of the Coastal Zone Management Act.

(5) Protecting archaeological resources. If the Regional Director believes that an archaeological resource may exist in the area that may be affected by drilling, the Regional Director will notify you of the need to prepare an archaeological report.

(i) If the evidence suggests that an archaeological resource may be present, you must:

(A) Locate the site of the drilling so as to not adversely affect the area where the archaeological resources may be, or

(B) Establish to the satisfaction of the BOEM Regional Director that an archaeological resource does not exist or will not be adversely affected by drilling. This must be done by further archaeological investigation, conducted by an archaeologist and a geophysicist, using survey equipment and techniques deemed necessary by the Regional Director. A report on the investigation must be submitted to the BOEM Regional Director for review.

(ii) If the BOEM Regional Director determines that an archaeological resource is likely to be present in the area that may be affected by drilling, and may be adversely affected by drilling, the BOEM Regional Director will notify you immediately. You must take no action that may adversely affect the archaeological resource unless an investigation by BOEM determines that the resource is not archaeologically significant.

(iii) If you discover any archaeological resource while drilling, you must immediately halt drilling and report the discovery to the BOEM Regional Director. If investigations determine that the resource is significant, the BOEM Regional Director will inform you how to protect it.

(6) [Reserved]

(7) Revising an approved drilling plan. Before you revise an approved drilling plan, you must obtain the BOEM Regional Director's approval.

(8) [Reserved]

(9) Deadline for completing a deep stratigraphic test. If your deep stratigraphic test well is within 50 geographic miles of a tract that BOEM has identified for a future lease sale, as listed on the currently approved OCS leasing schedule, you must complete all drilling activities and submit the data and information to the BOEM Regional Director at least 60 days before the first day of the month in which BOEM schedules the lease sale. However, the BOEM Regional Director may extend your permit duration to allow you to complete drilling activities and submit data and information if the extension is in the National interest.

(c) Group participation in test drilling. BOEM encourages group participation for deep stratigraphic tests.

(1) Purpose of group participation. The purpose is to minimize duplicative G&G activities involving drilling into the seabed of the OCS.

(2) Providing opportunity for participation in a deep stratigraphic test. When you propose to drill a deep stratigraphic test, you must give all interested persons an opportunity to participate in the test drilling through a signed agreement on a cost-sharing basis. You may include a penalty for late participation of not more than 100 percent of the cost to each original participant in addition to the original share cost.

(i) The participants must assess and distribute late participation penalties in accordance with the terms of the agreement.

(ii) For a significant hydrocarbon occurrence that the Regional Director announces to the public, 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.

(3) Providing opportunity for participation in a shallow test drilling project. When you apply to conduct shallow test drilling activities, you must, if ordered by the Regional Director or required by the permit, give all interested persons an opportunity to participate in the test activity on a cost-sharing basis. You may include a penalty provision for late participation of not more than 50 percent of the cost to each original participant in addition to the original share cost.

(4) Procedures for group participation in drilling activities. You must:

(i) Publish a summary statement that describes the approved activity in a relevant trade publication;

(ii) Forward a copy of the published statement to the Regional Director;

(iii) Allow at least 30 days from the summary statement publication date for other persons to join as original participants;

(iv) Compute the estimated cost by dividing the estimated total cost of the program by the number of original participants; and

(v) Furnish the Regional Director with a complete list of all participants before starting operations, or at the end of the advertising period if you begin operations before the advertising period is over. The names of any subsequent or late participants must also be furnished to the Regional Director.

(5) Changes to the original application for test drilling. If you propose changes to the original application and the Regional Director determines that the changes are significant, the Regional Director will require you to publish the changes for an additional 30 days to give other persons a chance to join as original participants.

(d) Bonding requirements. You must submit a bond under this part before you may start a deep stratigraphic test.

(1) Before BOEM issues a permit authorizing the drilling of a deep stratigraphic test, you must either:

(i) Furnish to BOEM a bond of not less than $200,000 that guarantees compliance with all the terms and conditions of the permit; or

(ii) Maintain a $1 million bond that guarantees compliance with all the terms and conditions of the permit you hold for the OCS area where you propose to drill.

(2) You must provide additional security to BOEM if the Regional Director determines that it is necessary for the permit or area.

(3) The Regional Director may require you to provide a bond, in an amount the Regional Director prescribes, before authorizing you to drill a shallow test well.

(4) Your bond must be on a form approved by the Deputy Director.

[76 FR 64623, Oct. 18, 2011, as amended at 80 FR 57097, Sept. 22, 2015]

§551.8   Inspection and reporting requirements for activities under a permit.

(a) Inspection of permit activities. You must allow BOEM representatives to inspect your exploration or scientific research activities under a permit. They will determine whether operations are adversely affecting the environment, aquatic life, archaeological resources, or other uses of the area. BOEM will reimburse you for food, quarters, and transportation that you provide for BOEM representatives if you send in your reimbursement request to the Region that issued the permit within 90 days of the inspection.

(b) Approval for modifications. Before you begin modified operations, you must submit a written request describing the modifications and receive the Regional Director's oral or written approval. If circumstances preclude a written request, you must make an oral request and follow up in writing.

(c) Reports. (1) You must submit status reports on a schedule specified in the permit and include a daily log of operations.

(2) You must submit a final report of exploration or scientific research activities under a permit within 30 days after the completion of acquisition activities under the permit. You may combine the final report with the last status report and must include each of the following:

(i) A description of the work performed.

(ii) Charts, maps, plats, and digital navigational data in a format specified by the Regional Director, showing the areas and blocks in which any exploration or permitted scientific research activities were conducted. Identify the lines of geophysical traverses and their locations including a reference sufficient to identify the data produced during each activity.

(iii) The dates on which you conducted the actual exploration or scientific research activities.

(iv) A summary of any:

(A) Hydrocarbon or sulphur occurrences encountered;

(B) Environmental hazards; and

(C) Adverse effects of the exploration or scientific research activities on the environment, aquatic life, archaeological resources, or other uses of the area in which the activities were conducted.

(v) Other descriptions of the activities conducted as specified by the Regional Director.

§551.9   Temporarily stopping, canceling, or relinquishing activities approved under a permit.

(a) BOEM may temporarily stop exploration or scientific research activities under a permit when the Regional Director determines that:

(1) Activities pose a threat of serious, irreparable, or immediate harm. This includes damage to life (including fish and other aquatic life), property, any mineral deposit (in areas leased or not leased), to the marine, coastal, or human environment, or to an archaeological resource;

(2) You failed to comply with any applicable law, regulation, order, or provision of the permit. This would include BOEM's required submission of reports, well records or logs, and G&G data and information within the time specified; or

(3) Stopping the activities is in the interest of National security or defense.

(b) Procedures to temporarily stop activities. (1) The Regional Director will advise you either orally or in writing. BOEM will confirm an oral notification in writing and deliver all written notifications by courier or certified or registered mail. You must halt all activities under a permit as soon as you receive an oral or written notification.

(2) The Regional Director will advise you when you may start your permit activities again.

(c) Procedure to cancel or relinquish a permit. The Regional Director may cancel, or a permittee may relinquish, a permit at any time.

(1) If BOEM cancels your permit, the Regional Director will advise you by certified or registered mail 30 days before the cancellation date and will state the reason.

(2) You may relinquish the permit by advising the Regional Director by certified or registered mail 30 days in advance.

(3) After BOEM cancels your permit or you relinquish it, you are still responsible for proper abandonment of any drill sites in accordance with the requirements of 30 CFR 251.7(b)(8). You must also comply with all other obligations specified in this part or in the permit.

§551.10   Penalties and appeals.

(a) Penalties for noncompliance under a permit issued by BOEM. You are subject to the penalty provisions of:

(1) Section 24 of the Act (43 U.S.C. 1350); and

(2) The procedures contained in 30 CFR part 550, subpart N, for noncompliance with:

(i) Any provision of the Act;

(ii) Any provision of a G&G or drilling permit; or

(iii) Any regulation or order issued under the Act.

(b) Penalties under other laws and regulations. The penalties prescribed in this section are in addition to any other penalty imposed by any other law or regulation.

(c) Procedures to appeal orders or decisions BOEM issues. See 30 CFR part 590 for instructions on how to appeal any order or decision that we issue under this part.

§551.11   Submission, inspection, and selection of geological data and information collected under a permit and processed by permittees or third parties.

(a) Availability of geological data and information collected under a permit. (1) You must notify the Regional Director, in writing, when you complete the initial analysis, processing, or interpretation of any geological data and information. Initial analysis and processing are the stages of analysis or processing where the data and information first become available for in-house interpretation by the permittee, or become available commercially to third parties via sale, trade, license agreement, or other means.

(2) The Regional Director may ask if you have further analyzed, processed, or interpreted any geological data and information. When so asked, you must respond to BOEM in writing within 30 days.

(b) Submission, inspection, and selection of geological data and information. The Regional Director may request the permittee or third party to submit the analyzed, processed, and interpreted geologic data and information for inspection and/or permanent retention by BOEM. The data and information must be submitted within 30 days after such request.

(c) Requirements for submission of geological data and information collected under a permit. Unless the Regional Director specifies otherwise, geological data and information must include:

(1) An accurate and complete record of all geological (including geochemical) data and information describing each operation of analysis, processing, and interpretation;

(2) Paleontological reports identifying microscopic fossils by depth, including the reference datum to which paleontological sample depths are related and, if the Regional Director requests, washed samples that you maintain for paleontological determinations;

(3) Copies of well logs or charts in a digital format, if available;

(4) Results and data obtained from formation fluid tests;

(5) Analyses of core or bottom samples and/or a representative cut or split of the core or bottom sample;

(6) Detailed descriptions of any hydrocarbons or hazardous conditions encountered during operations, including near losses of well control, abnormal geopressures, and losses of circulation; and

(7) Other geological data and information that the Regional Director may specify.

(d) Obligations when geological data and information collected under permit are obtained by a third party. A third party may obtain geological data and information from a permittee, or from another third party, by sale, trade, license agreement, or other means. If this happens:

(1) The third party recipient of the data and information assumes the obligations under this section, except for the notification provisions of paragraph (a)(1), and is subject to the penalty provisions of 30 CFR part 550, subpart N; and

(2) A permittee or third party that sells, trades, licenses, or otherwise provides data and information to a third party must advise the recipient, in writing, that accepting these obligations is a condition precedent of the sale, trade, license, or other agreement; and

(3) Except for license agreements, a permittee or third party that sells, trades, or otherwise provides data and information to a third party must advise the Regional Director, in writing and within 30 days, of the sale, trade, or other agreement, including the identity of the recipient of the data and information; or

(4) For license agreements a permittee or third party that licenses data and information to a third party must, within 30 days of a request by the Regional Director, advise the Regional Director, in writing, of the license agreement, including the identity of the recipient of the data and information.

§551.12   Submission, inspection, and selection of geophysical data and information collected under a permit and processed by permittees or third parties.

(a) Availability of geophysical data and information collected under a permit. (1) You must notify the Regional Director, in writing, when you complete the initial processing and interpretation of any geophysical data and information. Initial processing is the stage of processing where the data and information become available for in-house interpretation by the permittee, or become available commercially to third parties via sale, trade, license agreement, or other means.

(2) The Regional Director may ask if you have further processed or interpreted any geophysical data and information. When so asked, you must respond to BOEM in writing within 30 days.

(b) Submission, inspection and selection of geophysical data and information collected under a permit. The Regional Director may request that the permittee or third party submit geophysical data and information before making a final selection for retention. BOEM representatives may inspect and select the data and information on your premises, or the Regional Director can request delivery of the data and information to the appropriate BOEM regional office for review.

(1) You must submit the geophysical data and information within 30 days of receiving the request, unless the Regional Director extends the delivery time.

(2) At any time before final selection, the Regional Director may return any or all geophysical data and information following review. You will be notified in writing of all or portions of those data the Regional Director decides to retain.

(c) Requirements for submission of geophysical data and information collected under a permit. Unless the Regional Director specifies otherwise, you must include:

(1) An accurate and complete record of each geophysical survey conducted under the permit, including digital navigational data and final location maps;

(2) All seismic data collected under a permit presented in a format and of a quality suitable for processing;

(3) Processed geophysical information derived from seismic data with extraneous signals and interference removed, presented in a quality format suitable for interpretive evaluation, reflecting state-of-the-art processing techniques; and

(4) Other geophysical data, processed geophysical information, and interpreted geophysical information including, but not limited to, shallow and deep subbottom profiles, bathymetry, sidescan sonar, gravity and magnetic surveys, and special studies such as refraction and velocity surveys.

(d) Obligations when geophysical data and information collected under a permit are obtained by a third party. A third party may obtain geophysical data, processed geophysical information, or interpreted geophysical information from a permittee, or from another third party, by sale, trade, license agreement, or other means. If this happens:

(1) The third party recipient of the data and information assumes the obligations under this section, except for the notification provisions of paragraph (a)(1), and is subject to the penalty provisions of 30 CFR part 550, subpart N; and

(2) A permittee or third party that sells, trades, licenses, or otherwise provides data and information to a third party must advise the recipient, in writing, that accepting these obligations is a condition precedent of the sale, trade, license, or other agreement; and

(3) Except for license agreements, a permittee or third party that sells, trades, or otherwise provides data and information to a third party must advise the Regional Director, in writing and within 30 days, of the sale, trade, or other agreement, including the identity of the recipient of the data and information; or

(4) For license agreements, a permittee or third party that licenses data and information to a third party must, within 30 days of a request by the Regional Director, advise the Regional Director, in writing, of the license agreement, including the identity of the recipient of the data and information.

§551.13   Reimbursement for the costs of reproducing data and information and certain processing costs.

(a) BOEM will reimburse you or a third party for reasonable costs of reproducing data and information that the Regional Director requests if:

(1) You deliver G&G data and information to BOEM for the Regional Director to inspect or select and retain (according to §551.11 or §551.12);

(2) BOEM receives your request for reimbursement and the Regional Director determines that the requested reimbursement is proper; and

(3) The cost is at your lowest rate (or a third party's) or at the lowest commercial rate established in the area, whichever is less.

(b) BOEM will reimburse you or the third party for the reasonable costs of processing geophysical information (which does not include cost of data acquisition):

(1) If, at the request of the Regional Director, you processed the geophysical data or information in a form or manner other than that used in the normal conduct of business; or

(2) If you collected the information under a permit that BOEM issued to you before October 1, 1985, and the Regional Director requests and retains the information.

(c) When you request reimbursement, you must identify reproduction and processing costs separately from acquisition costs.

(d) BOEM will not reimburse you or a third party for data acquisition costs or for the costs of analyzing or processing geological information or interpreting geological or geophysical information.

§551.14   Protecting and disclosing data and information submitted to BOEM under a permit.

(a) Disclosure of data and information to the public by BOEM. (1) In making data and information available to the public, the Regional Director will follow the applicable requirements of:

(i) The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552);

(ii) The implementing regulations at 43 CFR part 2;

(iii) The Act; and

(iv) The regulations at 30 CFR parts 550 and 552.

(2) Except as specified in this section or in 30 CFR parts 550 and 552, if the Regional Director determines any data or information is exempt from public disclosure under this paragraph (a), BOEM will not provide the data and information to any State or to the executive of any local government or to the public, unless you and all third parties agree to the disclosure.

(3) BOEM will keep confidential the identity of third party recipients of data and information collected under a permit. BOEM will not release the identity unless you and the third parties agree to the disclosure.

(4) When you detect any significant hydrocarbon occurrences or environmental hazards on unleased lands during drilling operations, the Regional Director will immediately issue a public announcement. The announcement must further the National interest, but without unduly damaging your competitive position.

(b) Timetable for release of G&G data and information related to oil, gas, and sulphur that BOEM acquires. Except for high-resolution data and information released under 30 CFR 550.197(b)(2), BOEM will release or disclose acquired data and information in accordance with paragraphs (b)(1) through (7) of this section.

(1) If the data and information are not related to a deep stratigraphic test, BOEM will release them to the public in accordance with the following table:

If you or a third party submit and BOEM retains . . .The Regional Director will release them to the public . . .
(i) Geological data and information,10 years after BOEM issued the permit.
(ii) Geophysical data,50 years after BOEM issued the permit.
(iii) Geophysical information processed or reprocessed less than 20 years after BOEM issued the germane permit,25 years after BOEM issued the permit.
(iv) Geophysical information processed or reprocessed 20 or more years after BOEM issued the germane permit,25 years after BOEM issued the permit; or, if you or a third party applied for an extension of the proprietary term, 5 years after BOEM approved the application for an extension. In any case BOEM will release the information no later than 50 years after BOEM issued the permit.

(2) Permittees and third parties may apply to BOEM for an extension of the 25-year proprietary term for geophysical information reprocessed 20 or more years after BOEM issued the germane permit. You must submit the application to BOEM within 90 days after completion of the reprocessing, except during the initial 1-year grace period as provided in paragraph (b)(5) below. Filing locations are listed in §551.5(d). Your application must include:

(i) Name and address of the permittee or third party;

(ii) Product name;

(iii) Identification of the geophysical information area;

(iv) Identification of originating permit number and date;

(v) Description of reprocessing performed;

(vi) Identification of the date of completion of reprocessing the geophysical information;

(vii) Certification that the product meets the definition of processed geophysical information and that all other information in the application is accurate; and

(viii) Signature and date.

(3) With each new reprocessing of permitted data, you may apply for an extension of up to 5 years. However, the maximum proprietary term for geophysical information is 50 years after the permit was issued. Once the maximum term is reached, the BOEM Regional Director will release the information to the public.

(4) Geophysical information processed or reprocessed 20 or more years after the germane permit was issued and granted the extension will be subject to submission, inspection, and selection criteria under §551.12 and reimbursement criteria identified under §551.13.

(5) There was a 1-year grace period, that started September 14, 2009, that allowed permittees and third parties sufficient time to meet the above requirements and apply for all eligible extensions. During that time, BOEM did not release geophysical information which was reprocessed 20 or more years after the date that the germane permit was issued.

(6) Since September 14, 2010, BOEM has resumed releasing eligible reprocessed information. If an application for extension was not filed, not filed on time, or not approved by BOEM, the original 25-year proprietary term applies to the release date of the reprocessed geophysical information.

(7) If the data and information are related to a deep stratigraphic test, BOEM will release them to the public at the earlier of the following times:

(i) Twenty-five years after you complete the test; or

(ii) If a lease sale is held after you complete a test well, 60-calendar days after BOEM issues the first lease, any portion of which is located within 50 geographic miles (92.7 kilometers) of the test.

(8) BOEM may allow limited inspection, but only by persons with a direct interest in related BOEM decisions and issues in specific geographic areas, and who agree in writing to its confidentiality, of G&G data and information submitted under this part that BOEM uses to:

(i) Make unitization determinations on two or more leases;

(ii) Make competitive reservoir determinations;

(iii) Ensure proper plans of development for competitive reservoirs;

(iv) Promote operational safety;

(v) Protect the environment;

(vi) Make field determinations; or

(vii) Determine eligibility for royalty relief.

(c) Procedure that BOEM follows to disclose acquired data and information to a contractor for reproduction, processing, and interpretation. (1) When practical, the Regional Director will advise the person who submitted data and information under §551.11 or §551.12 of the intent to disclose the data or information to an independent contractor or agent.

(2) The person so notified will have at least 5 working days to comment on the action.

(3) When the Regional Director advises the person who submitted the data and information, all other owners of the data or information will be considered to have been so notified.

(4) Before disclosure, the contractor or agent must sign a written commitment not to sell, trade, license, or disclose data or information to anyone without the Regional Director's consent.

(d) Sharing data and information with coastal States. (1) When BOEM solicits nominations for leasing lands located within 3 geographic miles (5.6 kilometers) of the seaward boundary of any coastal State, the Regional Director, in accordance with 30 CFR 552.7(a)(4) and (b) and subsections 8(g) and 26(e) of the Act (43 U.S.C. 1337(g) and 1352(e)), will provide the Governor with:

(i) All information on the geographical, geological, and ecological characteristics of the areas and regions BOEM proposes to offer for lease;

(ii) An estimate of the oil and gas reserves in the areas proposed for leasing; and

(iii) An identification of any field, geological structure, or trap on the OCS within 3 geographic miles (5.6 kilometers) of the seaward boundary of the State.

(2) After receiving nominations for leasing an area of the OCS within 3 geographic miles of the seaward boundary of any coastal State, BOEM will carry out a tentative area identification according to 30 CFR part 556, subparts D and E. At that time, the Regional Director will consult with the Governor to determine whether any tracts further considered for leasing may contain any oil or gas reservoirs that underlie both the OCS and lands subject to the jurisdiction of the State.

(3) Before a sale, if a Governor requests, the Regional Director, in accordance with 30 CFR 552.7(a)(4) and (b) and sections 8(g) and 26(e) of the Act (43 U.S.C. 1337(g) and 1352(e)), will share with the Governor information that identifies potential and/or proven common hydrocarbon bearing areas within 3 geographic miles of the seaward boundary of that State.

(4) Information received and knowledge gained by a State official under paragraph (d) of this section is subject to applicable confidentiality requirements of:

(i) The Act; and

(ii) The regulations at 30 CFR parts 550, 551, and 552.

§551.15   Authority for information collection.

(a) The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information collection requirements in this part under 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. and assigned OMB control number 1010-0048. The title of this information collection is “30 CFR part 551, Geological and Geophysical (G&G) Explorations of the OCS.”

(b) We may not conduct or sponsor, and you are not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

(c) We use the information collected under this part to:

(1) Evaluate permit applications and monitor scientific research activities for environmental and safety reasons.

(2) Determine that explorations do not harm resources, result in pollution, create hazardous or unsafe conditions, or interfere with other users in the area.

(3) Approve reimbursement of certain expenses.

(4) Monitor the progress and activities carried out under an OCS G&G permit.

(5) Inspect and select G&G data and information collected under an OCS G&G permit.

(d) Respondents are Federal OCS permittees and Notice filers. Responses are mandatory or are required to obtain or retain a benefit. We will protect information considered proprietary under applicable law and under regulations at §551.14 and part 550 of this chapter.

(e) Send comments regarding any aspect of the collection of information under this part, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to the Information Collection Clearance Officer, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 45600 Woodland Road, Sterling, VA 20166.

[76 FR 64623, Oct. 18, 2011, as amended at 80 FR 57097, Sept. 22, 2015]

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