Interior's Report of Shut-In or Flaring Wells Unnecessary, but Oversight Should Continue

RCED-83-10: Published: Oct 5, 1982. Publicly Released: Oct 5, 1982.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Michael Gryszkowiec
(202) 275-5514
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

GAO reported on the methodology used by the Secretary of the Interior in allowing Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) wells to be shut-in or flaring natural gas, as required by law.

GAO found, as it did in three previous annual reports, that the Department of the Interior's Mineral Management Service (MMS) should continue to improve its monitoring of shut-in and flaring wells while discontinuing its annual report. Congress' primary concern in initially requiring an annual OCS shut-in and flaring wells report was to determine whether OCS operators were deliberately withholding production in anticipation of higher prices in the future. GAO found that Interior's methodology and reporting has not been adequate to make this determination, and GAO believes that recent decontrol makes it unlikely that operators would deliberately withhold production. GAO concluded that abolishing the report would be the most cost-effective solution, and that MMS could direct Interior's post-lease management functions in a more effective manner.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Recommendation contained in later report RCED-84-19.

    Matter: Congress should consider repealing section 15(1)(d) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, as amended, and sections 601(1) and (b) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments of 1978. These repeals would abolish the requirement for Interior's annual report on OCS shut-in and flaring wells as well as for the GAO annual evaluation of Interior's methodology and reporting to Congress.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct MMS to reinstitute procedures to compare Interior's onsite inspection reports with operator-reported shut-in data, at least on a selective basis, to verify the information being reported by operators.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct MMS to reinstitute procedures for monitoring for excessive emergency gas flaring.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct MMS to verify on a timely basis that gas flaring ceases when it is expected to cease.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 14, 2016

Sep 8, 2016

Aug 11, 2016

Aug 9, 2016

Aug 4, 2016

Jul 15, 2016

Jul 14, 2016

Jun 20, 2016

Mar 3, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here