The Energy Division participated in a series of MMS/Tri-County
Forums that the Minerals Management Service (MMS)
commenced during the 1990s to coordinate and improve inter-jurisdictional
regulation of oil and gas development offshore California's central
coast. Prior to this time, relations between different agencies
were often competitive and somewhat strained. The forums included
staff from Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties,
Coastal Commission, California State Lands Commission, California
Department of Fish & Game, California Department of Conservation,
and the Minerals Management Service. The subsequent meetings focused
on sharing of information among the key agencies involved in regulating
offshore oil and gas development, providing opportunities for the
staff of the various agencies to become more acquainted with one
another, and providing opportunities to share grievances, identify
issues, and work toward their resolution. Several results are attributable
to the MMS/Tri-County Forum, including initiation of the following
- Early conceptual endorsement of the oil industry's proposed
Drilling Rig Cooperative Program for exploratory
drilling in the future.
- Development of the Pacific OCS
Region Process for Protecting Hard Substrate
Communities, to address methods of eliminating or reducing
impacts to significant deep-water habitats as a result of exploratory
- Development of the Pacific OCS Region Approved
Exploration Plan Review Process, to address the interagency
coordination on renewing outdated Exploration Plans.
- Development of the Pacific OCS Region
- Preparation of report, titled the California Offshore Oil and
Gas Energy Resources (COOGER), documenting the capacity and constraints
of existing onshore infrastructure required to support offshore
oil and gas development, and assessing the demand for new onshore
infrastructure generated by potential development of existing
but undeveloped offshore oil and gas leases
in the future.
- Formation of the Interagency
Decommissioning Working Group to address issues of decommissioning
offshore platforms and pipelines after these facilities have permanently
Drilling Rig Cooperative Program.
The Forum met with offshore operators in the early 1990s to discuss
a cooperative program for shared use of a single drilling rig to
conduct exploratory drilling on undeveloped OCS leases. Shared use
of a single rig was seen as a constructive measure to minimize environmental
and socioeconomic impacts of offshore exploratory drilling. The
measure was further considered in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement
that the MMS prepared and circulated in 2000 to address potential
impacts of exploratory drilling.
Approved Exploration Plan Review Process.
Participating members formed a Working Group to address issues
with outdated Exploration Plans for OCS leases. After several sessions,
the Group developed a recommended process for renewing Exploration
Plans for the Pacific OCS Region. The MMS subsequently refined the
recommendation, and introduced a new process, which it dubbed the
Plan Review Process for renewing Exploration Plans in the Pacific
Process for Protecting Hard Substrate Communities.
Deep-water, rocky habitats represent a significant biological resource
of the Santa Barbara Channel and are important to the local commercial
fishing and sports-fishing industries. The MMS and Tri-County representatives
formed an adhoc committee to address impacts to these habitats from
offshore oil and gas exploration. The committee developed a process,
which focused on early examination of potential rocky hardbottom
issues when offshore operators submit an Exploration Plan.
for Process document (Adobe Acrobat format)