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Proposed Rule

Safety Zones for Outer Continental Shelf Facilities in the Gulf of Mexico

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard proposes to establish safety zones around five petroleum and gas production facilities in the Outer Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. The four platforms and one moored spar buoy need to be protected from vessels operating outside the normal shipping channels and fairways. Placing safety zones around these facilities will significantly reduce the threat of allisions, oil spills and releases of natural gas. The proposed regulation prevents all vessels from entering or remaining in specified areas around the platforms except for the following: An attending vessel; a vessel under 100 feet in length overall not engaged in towing; or a vessel Start Printed Page 63643authorized by the Eighth Coast Guard District Commander.

DATES:

Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before February 8, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

You may mail comments and related material to Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District (m), Hale Boggs Federal Bldg., 501 Magazine Street, New Orleans LA 70130, or comments and related material may be delivered to Room 1341 at the same address between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is (504) 589-6271. Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District (m) maintains the public docket for this rulemaking. Comments and material received from the public, as well as documents indicated in this preamble as being available in the docket, will become part of this docket and will be available for inspection or copying at Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District (m) between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

LT Karrie Trebbe, Project Manager for Eighth Coast Guard District Commander, Hale Boggs Federal Bldg., 501 Magazine Street, New Orleans LA 70130, telephone (504) 589-6271.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Requests for Comments

We encourage you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments and related material. If you do so, please include your name and address, identify the docket number for this rulemaking [CGD08-01-025], indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and give the reason for each comment. Please submit all comments and related material in an unbound format, no larger than 81/2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying. If you would like to know they reached us, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all comments and material received during the comment period. We may change this proposed rule in view of them.

Public Meeting

We do not plan to hold a public meeting. But you may submit a request for a meeting by writing to Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District (m) at the address under ADDRESSES explaining why one would be beneficial. If we determine that one would aid this rulemaking, we will hold one at a time and place announced by a later notice in the Federal Register.

Background and Purpose

The Coast Guard proposes to establish safety zones around the following petroleum producing facilities in the Gulf of Mexico: ExxonMobil Hoover Floating OCS Facility, a moored spar buoy, Alaminos Canyon Block 25A (AC25A), located at position 26°56′33″ N, 94°41′19.55″ W; Sir Douglas Morpeth Tension Leg Platform (Morpeth TLP), Ewing Bank Block 921A (EB 921A), located at position 28°02′05.28″ N, 90°01′22.12″ W; and Allegheny Tension Leg Platform (Allegheny TLP), Green Canyon Block 254A (GC 254A), located at position 27°41′29.65″ N, 90°16′31.93″ W; Brutus Tension Leg Platform (Brutus TLP), Green Canyon Block 158 (GC 158), located at position 27°47′42.86″ N, 90°38′51.15″ W; Enchilada Platform, Garden Banks Block 128A (GB 128A), located at position 27°52′31.31″ N, 91°59′11.09″ W.

These five proposed safety zones are in the deepwater area of the Gulf of Mexico. For the purposes of this regulation it is considered to be waters of 304.8 meters (1,000 feet) or greater depth extending to the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) contiguous to the territorial sea of the United States and extending to a distance up to 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the sea is measured. Navigation in the area of the proposed safety zones consists of large commercial shipping vessels, fishing vessels, cruise ships, tugs with tows and the occasional recreational vessel. The deepwater area also includes an extensive system of fairways. The fairways include the Gulf of Mexico East-West Fairway, the entrance/exit route of the Mississippi River, and the Houston-Galveston Safety Fairway. Significant amounts of vessel traffic occur in or near the various fairways in the deepwater area.

ExxonMobil Production Company, British Borneo USA, Inc and Shell Exploration and Production have requested that the Coast Guard establish safety zones in the Gulf of Mexico around the following: ExxonMobil Production Company, the ExxonMobil Hoover Floating OCS Facility, a moored spar buoy; British Borneo platforms, the Morpeth TLP and the Allegheny TLP; and Shell platforms, the Brutus TLP and the Enchilada Platform.

The request for the safety zones was made due to the high level of shipping activity around the facilities and the safety concerns for both the personnel on board the facilities and the environment. ExxonMobil Production Company, British Borneo USA, Inc and Shell Exploration and Production, indicated that the location, production level, and personnel levels on board the facilities make it highly likely that any allision with the facilities would result in a catastrophic event. The Enchilada Platform is located near the edge of a shipping safety fairway. The ExxonMobil Hoover Floating OCS Facility, Brutus TLP, Morpeth TLP and Allegheny TLP are located in open waters where no fixed structures previously existed. All are high production oil and gas drilling platforms producing from 20,000 to 108,000 barrels of oil per day, and are manned with crews ranging from approximately 18 to 160 people.

The Coast Guard has reviewed ExxonMobil Production Company's, British Borneo USA, Inc's and Shell Exploration and Production's concerns and agrees that the risk of allision to the facilities and the potential for loss of life and damage to the environment resulting from such an accident warrant the establishment of these safety zones. The proposed regulation would significantly reduce this threat of allisions, oil spills and natural gas and increase the safety of life, property, and the environment in the Gulf of Mexico. This regulation is issued pursuant to 14 U.S.C. 85 as set out in the authority citation for all of 33 CFR part 147.

Discussion of Proposed Rule

In addition to the general risks discussed above, the following specific risks apply to the individual facilities. The specific risk factors, which necessitate a safety zone for the ExxonMobil Hoover Floating OCS Facility, a moored spar buoy, are as follows: (1) There is no designated fairway at this distance offshore and mariners use the facility as a navigational aid; (2) the facility has a high production capacity of 100,000 barrels of petroleum oil per day and 325 million cubic feet of gas per day; and (3) the facility is manned with a crew of 160.

The specific risk factors, which necessitate a safety zone for the Morpeth TLP, are as follows: (1) Proximity to the Gulf of Mexico East-West fairway; (2) the facility has a high production capacity of 15,000 barrels of petroleum oil per day and 12,000 cubic feet of gas per day; and (3) the facility is manned with a crew of 18.

The specific risk factors, which necessitate a safety zone for the Allegheny TLP, are as follows: (1) There is no designated fairway at this distance offshore and mariners use the facility as a navigational aid; (2) the facility has a high production capacity of 23,500 barrels of petroleum oil per day and 32 Start Printed Page 63644million cubic feet of gas per day; and (3) the facility is manned with a crew of 18.

The specific risk factors, which necessitate a safety zone for the Brutus TLP, are as follows: (1) Proximity to the Gulf of Mexico East-West fairway; (2) the facility has a high production capacity of 100,000 barrels of petroleum oil per day and 150 million cubic feet of gas per day; and (3) the facility is manned with a crew of 150.

The specific risk factors, which necessitate a safety zone for the Enchilada Platform, are as follows: (1) Proximity to the Gulf of Mexico East-West fairway; (2) the facility has a high production capacity of 108,000 barrels of petroleum oil per day and 384 million cubic feet of gas per day; and (3) the facility is manned with a crew of 35.

Regulatory Evaluation

This proposed rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of that Order. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under that Order. It is not significant under the regulatory policies and procedures of the Department of Transportation (44 FR 11040; February 26, 1979).

We expect the economic impact of this proposed rule to be so minimal that a full Regulatory Evaluation under paragraph 10e of the regulatory policies and procedures of DOT is unnecessary.

The impacts on routine navigation are expected to be minimal because the safety zone will not encompass any nearby safety fairways.

Small Entities

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612.), we considered whether this proposed rule would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000.

The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Since the offshore facilities are located far offshore, few privately owned fishing vessels and recreational boats/yachts may be operating in the area and alternate routes are available for these vessels. Deviation of their intended course may cause a minimal loss of time (estimated loss of four to ten minutes) to their destination depending on how fast the vessel is traveling. The Coast Guard expects the impact of this regulation on small entities to be minimal.

If you think that your business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction qualifies as a small entity and that this rule would have a significant economic impact on it, please submit a comment (see ADDRESSES) explaining why you think it qualifies and how and to what degree this rule would economically affect it.

Assistance for Small Entities

Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal Employees who enforce, or otherwise determine compliance with Federal regulations to the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman and the Regional Small Business Regulatory Fairness Boards. The Ombudsman evaluates these actions annually and rates each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to comment on actions by employees of the Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-888-734-3247).

Collection of Information

This proposed rule would call for no new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

Federalism

We have analyzed this proposed rule under Executive Order 13132 and have determined that this rule does not have implications for federalism under that order.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) governs the issuance of Federal regulations that require unfunded mandates. An unfunded mandate is a regulation that requires a State, local, or tribal government or the private sector to incur direct costs without the Federal Government's having first provided the funds to pay those costs. This proposed rule would not impose an unfunded mandate.

Taking of Private Property

This proposed rule would not effect a taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights.

Civil Justice Reform

This proposed rule meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

Protection of Children

We have analyzed this proposed rule under Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. This rule is not an economically significant rule and does not concern an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that may disproportionately affect children.

Environment

We considered the environmental impact of this proposed rule and concluded that, under figure 2-1, paragraph (34)(g), of Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, this proposed rule is categorically excluded from further environmental documentation. A “Categorical Exclusion Determination” is available in the docket for inspection or copying where indicated under ADDRESSES.

Indian Tribal Governments

This rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it does not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes.

Energy Effects

We have analyzed this proposed rule under Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use. We have determined that it is not a “significant energy action” under that order because it is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866 and is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. It has not been designated by the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs as a significant energy action. Therefore, it does not require a Statement of Energy Effects under Executive Order 13211.

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List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 147

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For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard proposes to amend 33 CFR part 147 as follows:

Start Part

PART 147—SAFETY ZONES

1. The authority citation for part 147 continues to read as follows:

Start Authority

Authority: 14 U.S.C. 85; 43 U.S.C. 1333; 49 CFR 1.46.

End Authority

2. Add §§ 147.815, 147.817, 147.819, 147.821 and 147.23 to read as follows:

ExxonMobil Hoover Floating OCS Facility safety zone.

(a) Description. The ExxonMobil Hoover Floating OCS Facility, a moored spar buoy, Alaminos Canyon Block 25A (AC25A), is located at position 26°56′33″ N, 94°41′19.55″ W. The area within 500 meters (1640.4 feet) from each point on the structure's outer edge is a safety zone.

(b) Regulation. No vessel may enter or remain in this safety zone except the following: (1) An attending vessel,

(2) A vessel under 100 feet in length overall not engaged in towing, or

(3) A vessel authorized by the Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.

Sir Douglas Morpeth Tension Leg Platform safety zone.

(a) Description. The Sir Douglas Morpeth Tension Leg Platform (Morpeth TLP), Ewing Bank Block 921A (EB 921A), is located at position 28°02′5.28″ N, 90°01′22.12″ W. The area within 500 meters (1640.4 feet) from each point on the structure's outer edge is a safety zone.

(b) Regulation. No vessel may enter or remain in this safety zone except the following: (1) An attending vessel,

(2) A vessel under 100 feet in length overall not engaged in towing, or

(3) A vessel authorized by the Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.

Allegheny Tension Leg Platform safety zone.

(a) Description. The Allegheny Tension Leg Platform (Allegheny TLP), Green Canyon Block 254A (GC 254A), is located at position 27°41′29.65″ N, 90°16′31.93″ W. The area within 500 meters (1640.4 feet) from each point on the structure's outer edge is a safety zone.

(b) Regulation. No vessel may enter or remain in this safety zone except the following: (1) An attending vessel,

(2) A vessel under 100 feet in length overall not engaged in towing, or

(3) A vessel authorized by the Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.

Brutus Tension Leg Platform safety zone.

(a) Description. The Brutus Tension Leg Platform (Brutus TLP), Green Canyon Block 158 (GC 158), is located at position 27°47′42.86″ N, 90°38′51.15″ W. The area within 500 meters (1640.4 feet) from each point on the structure's outer edge is a safety zone.

(b) Regulation. No vessel may enter or remain in this safety zone except the following: (1) An attending vessel,

(2) A vessel under 100 feet in length overall not engaged in towing, or

(3) A vessel authorized by the Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.

Enchilada Platform safety zone.

(a) Description. The Enchilada Platform, Garden Banks Block 128A (GB 128A), is located at position 27°52′31.31″ N, 91°59′11.09″ W. The area within 500 meters (1640.4 feet) from each point on the structure's outer edge, not to extend into the adjacent East—West Gulf of Mexico Fairway, is a safety zone.

(b) Regulation. No vessel may enter or remain in this safety zone except the following: (1) An attending vessel,

(2) A vessel under 100 feet in length overall not engaged in towing, or

(3) A vessel authorized by the Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.

Start Signature

Dated: August 27, 2001.

R.J. Casto,

Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 01-30481 Filed 12-7-01; 8:45 am]

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