Deepwater Development: A reference document for the Deepwater Environmental Assessment Gulf of Mexico OCS (1998 through 2007)
As part of an overall deepwater strategy, Minerals Management Service (MMS) is preparing an environmental assessment (EA) on operations in the deepwater areas of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and for associated support activities and infrastructure. The MMS is using the EA process as a planning and management tool to ensure appropriate environmental review of deepwater operations. In preparation of the Deepwater EA, MMS has compiled a developmental scenario for the years 1998 through 2007 (Appendix A), including appropriate background information. The primary intent of the scenario and information is to serve as the basis for reaching the objectives of the EA, that is, to identify and evaluate the significance of potential impacts from operations in deepwater and to develop appropriate mitigation measures if needed. Additional uses would include budge and workload projections, reviewing regulatory and environmental issues, as well as planning purposes that would benefit MMS and operators. The collected information is not intended as an in-depth review, but rather, an instrument to aid in extrapolating what may occur in deepwater during the next 10 years. The scenario information was obtained by searching the various industry journals, evaluating historical activity levels for trends (particularly those in deepwater), investigating the data maintained by MMS (permits, well records, plans), and holding discussions with industry experts about development plans and technology trends (and how such affect development activities). Expertise within MMS was also relied on for the projections, and we used a list of GOM deepwater discoveries that we maintain to project future activity levels. Whenever possible, we present the data included in the deepwater development scenario as ranges (low to high).