Offshore Oil and Gas:

Final Annual Report on Shut-In and Flaring Wells

RCED-86-224: Published: Sep 12, 1986. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 1986.

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GAO presented its final annual report to Congress on the methodology the Department of the Interior uses in allowing offshore oil and gas wells to be suspended from production or to burn off natural gas.

GAO found that: (1) in past years, Interior relied primarily on shut-in and flaring well data, which well operators submitted to it, and its Minerals Management Service (MMS) inspectors verified through onsite inspections; (2) Interior requires operators to report monthly on the status of shut-in and flaring wells; (3) MMS inspectors verify shut-in and flaring well status through onsite platform checks and reviews of platform records; and (4) MMS inspectors routinely inspect platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. GAO believes that: (1) Interior's methodology for allowing oil and gas wells to be shut in or to flare natural gas was reasonable; and (2) the elimination of Interior's reporting requirement will not diminish its responsibility for administering mineral exploration and development and conserving offshore natural resources.

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