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Proposed Rule

Safety Zone; FRONTIER DISCOVERER, Outer Continental Shelf Drillship, Chukchi and Beaufort Sea, Alaska

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard proposes a temporary safety zone around the DRILLSHIP FRONTIER DISCOVERER, while anchored on location in order to drill exploratory wells at various prospects located in the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea Outer Continental Shelf, Alaska, from 12:01 a.m. on July 1, 2010 through 11:59 p.m. on October 31, 2010. The purpose of the temporary safety zone is to protect the DRILLSHIP from vessels operating outside normal shipping channels and fairways. Placing a temporary safety zone around the DRILLSHIP will significantly reduce the threat of allisions, oil spills, and releases of natural gas, and thereby protect the safety of life, property, and the environment.

DATES:

Comments and related material must be received by the Coast Guard on or before February 5, 2010.

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ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2009-0955 using any one of the following methods:

(1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.

(2) Fax: 202-493-2251.

(3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.

(4) Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202-366-9329.

To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. See the “Public Participation and Request for Comments” portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for instructions on submitting comments.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

If you have questions on this proposed rule, call or e-mail LCDR Ken Phillips, District Seventeen, Office of Prevention, Coast Guard; telephone 907-463-2821, e-mail Kenneth.G.Phillips@uscg.mil. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Public Participation and Request for Comments

We encourage you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments and related materials. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information you have provided.

Submitting Comments

If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this rulemaking (USCG-2009-0955), indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and material online (via http://www.regulations.gov) or by fax, mail, or hand delivery, but please use only one of these means. If you submit a comment online via http://www.regulations.gov, it will be considered received by the Coast Guard when you successfully transmit the comment. If you fax, hand deliver, or mail your comment, it will be considered as having been received by the Coast Guard when it is received at the Docket Management Facility. We recommend that you include your name and a mailing address, an e-mail address, or a telephone number in the body of your document so that we can contact you if we have questions regarding your submission.

To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov, click on the “submit a comment” box, which will then become highlighted in blue. In the “Document Type” drop down menu select “Proposed Rule” and insert “USCG-2009-0955” in the “Keyword” box. Click “Search” then click on the balloon shape in the “Actions” column. If you submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 81/2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit comments by mail and would like to know that they reached the Facility, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all comments and material received during the comment period and may change the rule based on your comments.

Viewing Comments and Documents

To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, click on the “read comments” box, which will then become highlighted in blue. In the “Keyword” box, insert USCG-2009-0955 and click “Search.” Click the “open Docket Folder” in the “Actions” column. You may also visit the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the Department of Transportation, West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. We have an agreement with the Department of Transportation to use the Docket Management Facility.

Privacy Act

Anyone can search the electronic form of comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review a Privacy Act notice regarding our public dockets in the January 17, 2008 issue of the Federal Register (73 FR 3316).

Public Meeting

We do not now plan to hold a public meeting. But you may submit a request for one by using one of the four methods specified under ADDRESSES. Please explain why you believe a public meeting 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 the establishment of a temporary safety zone around the DRILLSHIP FRONTIER DISCOVERER while anchored on location in order to drill exploratory wells in several prospects located in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas during the 2010 drilling season.

The request for the temporary safety zone was made by Shell Exploration & Production Company due to safety concerns for both the personnel aboard the FRONTIER DISCOVERER and the environment. Shell Exploration & Production Company indicated that it is highly likely that any allision or inability to identify, monitor or mitigate ice-related hazards that might be encountered would result in a catastrophic event. In evaluating this request, the Coast Guard explored relevant safety factors and considered several criteria, including but not limited to: (1) The level of shipping activity around the operation; (2) safety concerns for personnel aboard the vessel; (3) concerns for the environment given the sensitivity of the environmental and subsistence importance to the indigenous population; (4) the likeliness that an allision would result in a catastrophic event based on a lack of established shipping fairways, fueling and supply storage/operations, and size of the crew; (5) the recent and potential future maritime traffic in the vicinity of the proposed areas; (6) the types of vessels navigating in the vicinity of the proposed area; and (7) the structural configuration of the vessel. Navigation in the vicinity of the safety zone could consist of large commercial shipping vessels, fishing vessels, cruise ships, tugs with tows and the occasional recreational vessel.

Results from a thorough and comprehensive examination of the criteria, IMO guidelines, and existing regulations warrant the establishment of the proposed temporary safety zone. The proposed regulation would reduce significantly the threat of allisions, oil spills, and releases and increase the safety of life, property, and the environment in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas by prohibiting entry into the zone unless specifically authorized by the Commander, Seventeenth Coast Guard District.Start Printed Page 805

The proposed temporary safety zone will be around the FRONTIER DISCOVERER while anchored on location in order to drill exploratory wells approximately 52 to 108 nautical miles off the northwest coast in the Chukchi Sea and 11 to 16 nautical miles off the northern coast in the Beaufort Sea Outer Continental Shelf, Alaska.

Shell Exploration & Production Company has five proposed drill sites within the Burger, Crackerjack, and SW Shoebill prospects, Chukchi Sea, Alaska. Additionally Shell Exploration & Production Company has two proposed drill sites within the Suvulliq and Torpedo prospects, Camden Bay, Beaufort Sea, Alaska (See Table 1).

Table 1—Prospect Locations

ProspectAreaBlockLease No.LatitudeLongitude
BurgerPosey6764OCS-Y-2280N71°18′17.2739″W163°12′45.9891″
BurgerPosey6714OCS-Y-2267N71°20′13.9640″W163°12′21.7460″
BurgerPosey6912OCS-Y-2321N71°10′24.0292″W163°28′18.5219″
CrackerjackKaro6864OCS-Y-2111N71°13′58.9211″W166°14′10.7889″
SW ShoebillKaro7007OCS-Y-2142N71°04′24.4163″W167°13′38.0886″
SivulliqFlaxman Is6658OCS-Y-1805N70°23′29.5814″W145°58′52.5284″
TorpedoFlaxman Is6610OCS-Y-1941N70°27′01.6193″W145°49′32.0650″

During the 2010 timeframe, Shell Exploration & Production Company may drill up to three exploration wells at the five identified Chukchi Sea prospects and two exploration wells at the identified Camden Bay, Beaufort Sea prospects depending on favorable ice conditions, weather, sea state, and any other pertinent factors. Each of these drill sites will be permitted for drilling in 2010 to allow for operational flexibility in the event sea ice conditions prevent access to one or more locations. The number of actual wells that will be drilled will depend on ice conditions and the length of time available for the 2010 drilling season. The predicted “average” drilling season, constrained by prevailing ice conditions and regulatory restrictions, is long enough for two to three typical exploration wells to be drilled.

The actual order of drilling activities will be controlled by an interplay between actual ice conditions immediately prior to a rig move, ice forecasts, any regulatory restrictions with respect to the dates of allowed operating windows, whether the planned drilling activity involves only drilling the shallow non-objective section or penetrating potential hydrocarbon zones, the availability of permitted sites having approved shallow hazards clearance, the anticipated duration of each contemplated drilling activity, the results of preceding wells and Marine Mammal Monitoring and Mitigation plan requirements.

All planned exploration drilling in the identified lease blocks will be conducted with the FRONTIER DISCOVERER. The FRONTIER DISCOVERER is a true drillship, and is a largely self-contained drilling vessel that offers full accommodations for up to 124 persons. The hull has been reinforced for ice resistance.

The FRONTIER DISCOVERER has a “persons on board” capacity of 124, and it is expected to be at capacity for most of its operating period. The FRONTIER DISCOVERER's personnel will include its crew, as well as Shell employees, third party contractors, Alaska Native Marine Mammal Observers and possibly Minerals Management Service (MMS) personnel.

While conducting exploration drilling operation the FRONTIER DISCOVERER will be anchored. The anchoring system utilized will consist of an 8-point anchored mooring spread attached to the turret of the FRONTIER DISCOVERER and could have a maximum anchor radius of 3,600 ft (1,100 m). The anchor spread, which radiates from the center of the FRONTIER DISCOVERER, may pose a fouling hazard from any vessel attempting to anchor within the anchor spread. Fouling of the FRONTIER DISCOVERER anchor lines may endanger the DRILLSHIP, its 124 onboard and the third party vessel.

The center point of the FRONTIER DISCOVERER will be positioned within one of the seven prospect locations in the Chukchi or Beaufort Sea at the coordinates listed (See Table 1).

The FRONTIER DISCOVERER will move into the Chukchi or Beaufort Sea on or about July 1, 2010 and onto a prospect location when ice allows. Drilling will be curtailed on or before October 31, 2010. The DRILLSHIP and support vessels will exit the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea at the conclusion of the 2010 drilling season.

Discussion of Proposed Rule

The proposed temporary safety zone would encompass the area within 500 meters (1,640.4 feet) from each point on the outer edge of the FRONTIER DISCOVERER while anchored on location in order to drill exploratory wells. No vessel would be allowed to enter or remain in this proposed safety zone except the following: An attending vessel or a vessel authorized by the Commander, Seventeenth Coast Guard District or a designated representative. They may be contacted on VHF-FM Channel 13 or 16 or by telephone at 907-463-2000.

Regulatory Analyses

We developed this proposed rule after considering numerous statutes and executive orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on 13 of these statutes or executive orders.

Regulatory Planning and Review

This proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, 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.

This rule is not a significant regulatory action due to the location of the FRONTIER DISCOVERER in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas Outer Continental Shelf, Alaska, and its distance from both land and safety fairways. Vessels traversing waters near the proposed safety zone will be able to safely travel around the zone without incurring additional costs.

Small Entities

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have 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 Start Printed Page 806governmental 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. This proposed rule would affect the following entities, some of which might be small entities: The owners or operators of vessels intending to transit or anchor in the locations where the exploratory wells will be drilled (See Table 1).

This safety zone will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities for the following reasons: This rule will enforce a temporary safety zone around the FRONTIER DISCOVERER while anchored and on location in order to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas is not frequented by vessel traffic and is not in close proximity to a safety fairway. Further, vessel traffic can pass safely around the safety zone without incurring additional costs.

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

Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this proposed rule so that they can better evaluate its effects on them and participate in the rulemaking. If the rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact LCDR Ken Phillips, District Seventeen, Office of Prevention, Coast Guard; telephone 907-463-2821, e-mail Kenneth.G.Phillips@uscg.mil. The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this proposed rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.

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

A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on State or local governments and would either preempt State law or impose a substantial direct cost of compliance on them. We have analyzed this proposed rule under that Order and have determined that it does not have implications for federalism.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary regulatory actions. In particular, the Act addresses actions that may result in the expenditure by a State, local, or tribal government, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100,000,000 or more in any one year. Though this proposed rule would not result in such an expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.

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 would not create an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that might disproportionately affect children.

Indian Tribal Governments

This proposed rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it would 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. The Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has not designated it as a significant energy action. Therefore, it does not require a Statement of Energy Effects under Executive Order 13211.

Technical Standards

The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) (15 U.S.C. 272 note) directs agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in their regulatory activities unless the agency provides Congress, through the Office of Management and Budget, with an explanation of why using these standards would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., specifications of materials, performance, design, or operation; test methods; sampling procedures; and related management systems practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies.

This proposed rule does not use technical standards. Therefore, we did not consider the use of voluntary consensus standards.

Environment

We have analyzed this proposed rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have made a preliminary determination that this action is one of a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. A preliminary environmental analysis checklist supporting this determination is available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this proposed rule.

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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:

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PART 147—SAFETY ZONES

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

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Authority: 14 U.S.C. 85; 43 U.S.C. 1333; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

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2. Add § 147.T17-001 to read as follows:

Safety Zone; FRONTIER DISCOVERER, Outer Continental Shelf Drillship, Chukchi and Beaufort Sea, Alaska.

(a) Description. The FRONTIER DISCOVERER will be engaged in exploratory drilling operations at various locations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea from July 1, 2010 through October 31, 2010. The DRILLSHIP will be anchored while conducting exploratory drilling operations with the center point of the vessel located at the coordinates listed in Table 1. These coordinates are based upon [NAD 83] UTM Zone 3.

Table 1—Prospect Locations

ProspectAreaBlockLease No.LatitudeLongitude
BurgerPosey6764OCS-Y-2280N71°18′17.2739″W163°12′45.9891″
BurgerPosey6714OCS-Y-2267N71°20′13.9640″W163°12′21.7460″
BurgerPosey6912OCS-Y-2321N71°10′24.0292″W163°28′18.5219″
CrackerjackKaro6864OCS-Y-2111N71°13′58.9211″W166°14′10.7889″
SW ShoebillKaro7007OCS-Y-2142N71°04′24.4163″W167°13′38.0886″
SivulliqFlaxman Is6658OCS-Y-1805N70°23′29.5814″W145°58′52.5284″
TorpedoFlaxman Is6610OCS-Y-1941N70°27′01.6193″W145°49′32.0650″

The area within 500 meters (1,640.4 feet) from each point on the outer edge of the vessel while anchored on location is a safety zone.

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

(1) An attending vessel; or

(2) A vessel authorized by the Commander, Seventeenth Coast Guard District.

Start Signature

Dated: December 17, 2009.

C.C. Colvin,

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

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[FR Doc. E9-31351 Filed 1-5-10; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 9110-04-P