On June 4, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) and the U.S. Coast Guard signed a Memorandum of Agreement regarding division of lead agency responsibilities between the two agencies for regulation, inspection, and oversight of systems and sub-systems on mobile offshore drilling units (“MODUs”) used for oil, gas, or sulphur drilling, production, or related activities. The lead agency will be responsible for coordinating with the other agency as appropriate.

MODUs fall under Coast Guard authority for regulation of vessels, are inspected and certificated by the Coast Guard, and are subject to USCG regulatory authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act for matters relating to the protection of life and property, as well as for unregulated hazardous working conditions on the Outer Continental Shelf. During periods when a MODU is temporarily attached to the seabed, BSEE regulates well operations, including drilling, completions, workover, production, and decommissioning.

The Memorandum of Agreement sets forth the basis on which BSEE and the Coast Guard intend to work together to identify and coordinate responsibilities for the inspection and oversight of MODUs. Implementation is to be in accordance with a prior Memorandum of Understanding executed between the two agencies on Nov. 27, 2012, which generally addressed coordination of shared agency responsibility for management of the Outer Continental Shelf. As illustrated in the chart below, this new Memorandum of Agreement presents a detailed breakdown of lead responsibility by system and sub-system, thereby allowing operators of MODUs to more quickly identify the principal agency with regulatory oversight over any specific area.

Under the Memorandum of Agreement, the Coast Guard will have lead agency responsibilities over the following systems and sub-systems:

Click here to view table.

BSSE’s lead agency responsibilities will extend to the following areas: 

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