U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Dec 04, 2020

§ 251.1 - 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 Safety and Environmental Enforcement, 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 mean 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.

§ 251.2 - [Reserved]

§ 251.3 - Authority and applicability of this part.

BSEE 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 550 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.

§§ 251.4-251.6 - §[Reserved]

§ 251.7 - Test drilling activities under a permit.

(a) [Reserved]

(b) Deep stratigraphic tests. You must submit to the appropriate BOEM or BSEE Regional Director, at the address in 30 CFR 551.5(d) for BOEM or 30 CFR 254.7 for BSEE, 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. (The 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. The 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 BOEM Regional Director believes that an archaeological resource may exist in the area that may be affected by drilling, the BOEM Regional Director will notify you of the need to prepare an archaeological report under 30 CFR 551.7(b)(5).

(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 further investigations determine 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) Application for permit to drill (APD). Before commencing deep stratigraphic test drilling activities under an approved drilling plan, you must submit an APD and a Supplemental APD Information Sheet (Forms BSEE-0123 and BSEE-0123S) and receive approval. You must comply with all regulations relating to drilling operations in 30 CFR part 250.

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

(8) After drilling. When you complete the test activities, you must permanently plug and abandon the boreholes of all deep stratigraphic tests in compliance with 30 CFR part 250. If the tract on which you conducted a deep stratigraphic test is leased to another party for exploration and development, and if the lessee has not disturbed the borehole, BSEE will hold you and not the lessee responsible for problems associated with the test hole.

(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)-(d) [Reserved]

§§ 251.8-251.14 - §[Reserved]

§ 251.15 - Authority for information collection.

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 1014-0025 as it pertains to Application for Permit to Drill (APD, Form BSEE-0123), and Supplemental APD Information Sheet (Form BSEE-0123S). The title of this information collection is “30 CFR Part 250, Application for Permit to Drill (APD, Revised APD) Supplemental APD Information Sheet, and all supporting documents.

[81 FR 36151, June 6, 2016]