Page images

2. Even when loss of animal or plant life occurs, in time, recovery of the environment is followed by return of normal populations. In most cases the recovery time is not prolonged.

3. The principal problems resulting from accidental oil spills involve these factors:

(a) Contamination of filter-feeding animals.

(6) Heavy fouling of beach or marsh areas; and the coating of birds, animals and plants in local areas.

(c) Fouling of private property and the cost of cleanup procedures. Chronic pollution by contrast, is a more critical and less understood problem. Prior to increased state regulation and surveillance of the oil industry continuing low. level pollution associated with intensive oil production in shallow inshore embayments and marsh areas was common in Louisiana. Production from numerous wellheads, with associated gathering lines, tank batteries, separators and sludge pits all afford opportunity for leaks and spills causing chronic introduction of oil into the ecosystem. There were areas of intensive petroleum production where chronic oil loss had ruled out other uses of the area, destroying once valuable oyster reefs and shrimping grounds. However, the onset of stricter state safety regulations as well as company initiated safety precautions have led to the installation of additional safety equipment and oil spills have been kept to a minimum in recent times. It has been our experience that oil and gas operations can be conducted with only minimal interference to other users of our bays, marshes and offshore areas and there is no reason to believe the OCS cannot enjoy the same multiple uses. Oil Emulsion Muds

One of the most serious and long-lasting types of pollution associated with the petroleum industry occurs when diesel oil is added to the mud system to enhance the drilling of deep wells. If the excess or used mud or cuttings from such an operation is lost overboard, there results a serious oil pollution of the substrate since the oil is absorbed into the heavy mud particles and settles to the bottom. Visible oil slicks may not occur and the pollution may go undetected. If oysters or other filter-feeding animals are in the area, they soon filter out and concentrate the oil and develop an unpalatable oily taste. As little as five hundred parts per million of oil in mud will cause serious problems in oysters and even one part per million added to a running-water system will be concentrated by oysters kept in the system for several weeks. Detergents, Dispersants and Other Chemicals Used to Clean Up Oil Spills

Usually when oil spills occur, public outcry and concern on the part of the industry to reestablish good public relations result in rapid and costly attempts to clean up the area or to make the visible oil disappear from sight. From our experience with oil emulsion muds, this may be the worst approach possible to the cleanup problem for these reasons :

1. Detergents or dispersant chemicals may cause the oil to absorb on mud and silt particles which sink to the substrate or float in the water column where they are more available to filter feeders.

2. Absorbed oil on the bottom particles appears to take longer to degrade.

3. The use of chemicals to disperse the oil involves placing an additional load of foreign and undesirable material in the ecosystem. Many of the dispersants tested proved to be far more toxic than oil.

4. Dispersal of oil does not allow proper mapping or study of polluted areas

5. Floating oil is probably the least damaging position for oil to occur in the ecosystem. Here it degrades more rapidly-its only effect is at the interface and, except in intertidal areas and marshes, will usually dissipate, degrade and be mechanically dispersed by wave action with little apparent effect on the ecosystem. Commercial Fishery Problems

Offshore operations have created several types of problems for commercial fishermen, particularly shrimp trawlers. The principal difficulties for fishing fleets involve navigational problems and seabed obstructions. The producing platforms and other above-water structures are well marked and lighted but when they become extremely numerong, significant fishing area is lost. Occasionally boats collide with structures but the primary problem seems to be that, with

fishing gear down, they must stay well clear of the rig in order to avoid possible collision or the entanglement of gear in underwater material discarded from the rig. This means that a considerable area around each site cannot be safely fished and significant fishing area may be lost to them.

l'ntil recently underwater completions and inactive stubs were a serious problem. These obstructions, if in water greater than eight feet above their highest point, do not have to be marked or bouyed. More than two hundred such structures clutter the sea floor off Louisiana and this has resulted in the loss of a considerable amount of expensive fishing gear. New rule changes now allow the pipes to be cut off below the mudline and it is expected that most of these hazards will be removed within the next year or two.

(c) Undersea pipeline construction and operation.—Undersea pipeline construction and operation is not a serious environmental problem if regulated to prevent exposed pipes on the seabed. Usually subsurface currents will alleviate the problem by burying pipelines. New construction is a potential hazard to commercial fishermen and has resulted in gear loss.

(d) Tanker operation.—The overall damage from a tanker spill is probably minimal if it occurs offshore and remains away from the coastal marshes. With the advent of super-oil tanker ports which will concentrate these large vessels in a near offshore area, the possibility of vast oil spills, constant leakage, and accumulation of minor spills is tremendously enhanced and this poses a great threat to the environment in these areas unless closely regulated.

16) Onshore pipeline construction and operation.-Highest priority should be afforded to the prevention of alteration of the environment in inshore pipeline construction and operation. Some of the related problems are:

1. The dredging and channelization needed for the navigation of drilling rigs to location result in direct destruction and loss of nursery areas from dredging, silting, leveeing and erosion. Sessile animals and bottom organisms are killed or dislocated while marsh areas may be destroyed, drained and drastically altered.

2. Pipeline construction can be especially destructive and result in serious ecological changes. The construction of large and long pipelines requires the dredging of wide and deep flotation canals for the laying equipment. These canals, 40 or more feet in width traverse and cut through marshlands and embayments without regard for changes in the natural drainage pattern, the disruption of currents in bays or waterflow in marshlands, and the direct loss of animals and plants within the rights-of-way from dredging and silting. Long-range effects involve serious erosion of unstable marshes traversed by such canals.

3. Even in cases when dredging is not a factor, shorelines, intertidal areas, marshes and very shallow waters which make up an important part of the ecosystem can be cut up and destroyed by vehicular traffic such as mudboats, marsh buggies, tugs and equipment barges and other heavy equipment.

4. More widespread and serious ecological damage and disturbance of the ecosystem occur from the indirect and secondary effects of the above activities. The more direct effects are local in nature and are generally in or near the rightsof-way while the indirect effects are more far-reaching and difficult to evaluate.

These include: (a) Changes in water cycling rates and volumes: (b) Sale and freshwater intrusion; (c) Indirect silting considerable distances from the site of activity resulting from changes in the direction and velocity of currents;

(d) Partial or total disruption of normal drainage patterns and water movements.

Question J-5. What quantative information is available about the total costs of past mishaps on the OCS, including oil and gas lost, private and government cleanup costs, loss of fish and wildlife, damage to tourism, reduced property talues, and administrative costs?

Answer. Losses to fish and wildlife in the Louisiana area has not been demonstrable nor has any data been presented which statistically supports evidence of economic losses. The administrative costs to the State of Louisiana for surveillance, research and additional workload during times of serious accidents has been considerable, probably exceeding several hundred thousand dollars per accident.

Question J-7. What additional geological, biological, engincering or other information is necessary with regard to improving the environmental safety aspects of offshore oil and gas operations? Is there research that ought to be completed before any further offshore leasing? Are there specific instances or areas in which leasing should be postponed pending completion of further studies? What time, effort and costs would be involved in this research?

Answer. We are of the opinion the studies that have been completed and the environmental safety aspects presently required through Federal OCS rules and regulations are sufficient. The State would continue to cooperate and encourage new and improved safety devices, where reasonable, in order to further protect the environment. Leasing, exploration and development should not be postponed to await completion of research projects or studies.

Question K-2. Should the Congress determine, on a case by case basis, the circumstances under which tracts of OCS lands should be established as marine preserves or sanctuaries?

Answer. Whether established by Congress, or other authority, we agree that these must be considered on a case by case basis. However, any establishment of a marine preserve or sanctuary should be considered under the multiple land usage concept which includes petroleum exploration and development. The State of Louisiana has years of experience, which has been documented, in the exploration and development for oil and gas associated with preserves or sanctuaries. Under the specific rules and regulations established for similar State areas, multiple use has, does and can exist. Prime examples of these are: (1) Avery Island Bird Sanctuary and Scenic Gardens, (2) Pass-a-Loutre Game and Fish Preserve, (3) Rockefeller Wild Life Refuge and Game Preserve and (4) Russell Sage or Marsh Island Wild Life Refuge and Game Preserve.

Question K-3. Are there instances in which highly promising OCS acrcage should be permanently reserved from development for recreational, ecological, or aesthetic reasons? What cost-benefit standards should be applied to proposals for reservations of this type? What other standards or considerations should be applied to proposals for reservations of this type?

Answer. We feel reasonably certain that some areas should be set aside for permanent recreational and ecological reasons. Many such areas could probably be located in areas where mineral production does not occur. A real problem does exist in Louisiana where vast mineral resources underlie a unique and extremely valuable fishing area. Setting aside this area for the fishery purposes along probably could not be justified in view of the tremendous oil reserves involved. However, if the fishery and natural resources production of the Louisiana coast is destroyed because of mineral production, the long-term economic loss to the country would be staggering and the loss of food and nutrients to a growing human population would be incalcuable. In view of this, exceedingis careful regulation of the area should be undertaken and probably some cutoff point in mineral exploitation should be determined beyond which this highly productive area would not be subjected to further ecological dangers. This problem, however, really lies in the nursery grounds and coastal areas well within Louisiana's jurisdiction and does not constitute a major problem on the outer continental shelf.

Question K-5. If a short term (two-year) or long term (five- to ten-year) moratorium were established and all OCS operations were suspended :

(a) From what probable alternative sources would petroleum demand be filled?

Answer. For the short term (two-year), we see no alternative source for petroleum demand except from foreign sources. The lead time to develop new resources in this country varies from five to seven years for conventional fuels The same answer would prevail for the long term (five- to ten-year). The lead time for developing other forms of energy as alternatives, the so-called erotics, would require from 10 to 20 years.

(b) To what extent, if any, would thcsc alternatives reduce the risk of coast. line oil pollution?

Answer. The only alternative, as indicated in the answer to K-5 (a) above, is increased use of foreign oil. Rather than reduce the risk of coastline pollution we believe the risk would be increasca. Statistics are available which indicate that tanker leakage and spillage from accidents on the high seas cause a major portion of coastline pollution. If more foreign oil is transported to our shores ly tankers, then we believe the risk would be materially increased.

(c) What new environmental risks would be associated with alternative sources of supply?

Answer. The answer to K-5 (b) we believe also answers this question. We know of no new risks. The risks would only change in location.

Question E-1. What is the procedure currently used by the State (Federal) agencies for determining, on a short range (one year), intermediate range fire years), and long range (five years and beyond) basis:

(a) The demand or need for OCS production ? Answer (a). Realizing the natural gas shortage, the State Legislature in 1970 adopted an Act to allow the State to take its gas in kind. Implementation of this Act is being considered at this time.

Question E-1 (6). The sequence, size and timing of sales? and (c) The location, size and shape of specific tracts offered for lease?

Answer (b) and (c). Sales are presently being conducted on a monthly basis. The number of tracts, location, total acreage, size and shape depends upon nominations by industry although by statute a single tract may not exceed 5000 acres. The State Mineral Board has authority to advertise for lease any specific acreage on its own initiative. Thirty-five years of experience has proven that sales conducted at regular intervals is conducive to the orderly development of oil properties. Regular scheduling of sales has many advantages; it enables the industry to budget properly, grants it security in planning, and affords time in which to secure proper equipment.

Question E-1-A. What is the procedure currently used by Federal agencies for determining on a short range (1 year), intermediate (5 years) and long range (5 years and beyond) basis:

(a) The demand or need for OCS production?

Answer. With respect to Louisiana operations, crude demand is determined on a monthly basis through nominations from all crude purchasers in the State. In the past, the determination of intermediate or long range demand could only be ascertained through an extrapolation of demand trend. However, this is no longer valid as Louisiana can not satisfy the current market demand even at maximum productive capability. Louisiana's market demand for June, 1972 is 1,519,304 barrels per day. June allowables have been assigned so as to produce an estimated 1,314,000 barrels per day, or about 205,000 barrels per day less than market demand. Our best estimates of all out production capability for Louisiana would leave us far short of the current market demand.

Several years ago we were producing at much lower rates in response to lower market demand and therefore had a reserve producing capacity of sizeable proportion. This was demonstrated by our ability to produce an additional 250,000+ barrels of oil per day to satisfy the increased market demand during the 1967 and 1970 Middle East Crises. Louisiana cannot produce any appreciable amount of oil today to carry us over a national emergency of any proportion. For the above reasons, market demand no longer plays an important role in influencing Louisiana's production. Future production rates in Louisiana will be controlled by reservoir capabilities.

Question E-2. What is the procedure currently used by the State (Federal) agencies for taking into account recreational, fish and wildlife and other enrironmental values in choosing tracts to be leased!

Answer. The State has specific rules and regulations governing exploration and development of games preserves, fresh water supplies, and oyster beds. Public authorities or public bodies are notified when these sensitive areas are advertised for leasing, and close cooperation with all related agencies is maintained with supervision imposed.

Question F-1. What, in general, are the current procedures for lease supervi. sion and inspection? Are there concrete indications of improved surveillance and compliance over past experience? To what extent has the risk of accidents, such 118 those which occurred near Santa Barbara and Offshore Louisiana been reduced, and to what factors are reductions (if any) due?

The Louisiana Department of Conservation exercises the police power of the state through extensive regulatory supervision. The Department is divided into six (6) districts, four of which border on the Gulf of Mexico. These districts have a total of twelve oil and gas inspectors assigned to fields in the bay areas and Zone I. They are responsible for the testing of wells, plugging and abandonment operations, casing tests, and platform inspections to insure compliance with Statewide Order No. 29-B which includes pollution surveillance regulations. The work of our oil and gas inspectors is supplemented by agents from the Inspection and Enforcement Division who make investigations and file detailed reports on production platforms and salt water disposal facilities in all fields at least once a year. Re-inspections are made upon the request of the local district managers or when otherwise appropriate. This method of operation has brought about more accurate reporting of production data and oil spills, induced cleaner operations and encouraged the installation of devices to reduce pollution. Spill pans under production vessels with drains to collecting sumps and pumps with automatic controls have been installed. This equipment is checked at regular intervals to insure that it will operate when needed.


Holes in the impervious platforms have been repaired along with broken retaining walls to insure that any spillage which occurs in everyday operations will not cause pollution. The efficiency of separation has been increased and the amount of entrained oil, formerly discharged with produced brime to the Gulf of Mexico, has been or is being reduced to meet new water quality standards. The accidents which occurred near Santa Barbara and offshore Louisiana caused the oil and gas operators along with the Lousiana Department of Conservation to re-evaluate their operations and pollution prevention requirements. Some companies established inspection teams, dispatched them to inspect their installations, and acted on their recommendations to reduce the possibility of similar accidents. Others set up waste oil salvage operations whereby waste from bilges, sumps, stock tanks, production vessels, etc., is picked up at regular intervals by barges and brought inshore for non-contaminating disposition. Equipment to contain and dispose of oil spills has been stocked in strategic locations. Funds for their purchase was provided by different companies for use on a cooperative basis by operators in an emergency. All of these factors have considerably reduced the quantity of oil which was formerly discharged to the Gulf accidentally or otherwise.

Question G. (a, b, and c-11). What jurisdictional issues remain unresolred regarding:

(a) The seaward limits of the OCS?

Answer. The question of where the Outer Continental Shelf ends in one that continues to divide international law experts. We wish merely to clarify the attitude of the State by means of a general policy observation.

Proposals to either internationalize or submit to international control what is presently considered the Outer Continental Shelf, a vital area of important nat. ural resources upon which so many Louisianians depend for their livelihoods, will be strongly opposed by the people of this state. We disapprove of any such proposal which decreases State or National jurisdiction over our offshore submerged lands.

(6) The seaward limits of state jurisdiction?

Answer. The seaward limits of State jurisdiction are still the subject of litigation between the State and Federal governments. A Special Master appointed by the Supreme Court conducted extensive hearings over two years, and extensive briefs are now being written on the many complicated matters in dispute, Islands and low water elevations questions, cartographic and survey problems, natural entrance point selection tests, water area bay tests, and many, many other factual and legal questions complicate the dispute. It is not unlikely that another three to five years will be required to resolve the matter.

To here list and discuss the issues involved would be impossible but major points at issue include those itemized on a statement of the issues which the parties have agreed remain to be decided by the Special Master. (Appendix A attached).

We have heretofore commented in response to question A-5 concerning problems of the ambulatory boundary in a major deltaie coastal area. Unless agreement is reached on that problem, litigation is apt to be renewed after the present dispute is resolved.

(c) The authority of the Scoretary of the Interior (11) to promulgate "conser. rationregulations ?

Answer. As to the authority of the Secretary to promulgate conservation regulations, such authority does not and should not affect areas owned by the State or subject to State leases. As earlier noted, this emphasizes the need for an agency or arbiter, independent of the Secretary's power, to resolve State-federal boundary disputes. The creation of such a body should be given serious consideration. It could, perhaps, be composed of State and federal representatives and invested with powers to enact conservation regulations for boundary areas.

Question 1-1. In view of the recent Louisiana Offshore sale court decision, achat changes in procedure, if any, do tho State agencies contemplate to satisfy NEPA environmental impact statement requirements?

Answer. We feel the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 should be re evaluated in light of the present energy crisis. Interpretation or clarification of certain segments must be made so that the petroleum industry can function. Individual impact statements on each tract is impractical if not impossible. An impact statement that is prepared covering a specific area should be sufficient for any future petroleum development activity in that particular area and repetitive individual impact statements on portions covered by a previous statement should not have to be submitted. These areas should be classified and identified with similar environmental aspects as the controlling factor. This is necessary to allow industry to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible from the beginning of the ex. ploration activity to actual drilling and production operations. Experience has

« PreviousContinue »