The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is recommending that the Department of Interior take steps to improve oversight of idled and terminated offshore oil and gas lease infrastructure to better protect against billions of dollars in federal exposure to decommissioning liabilities. In the report (GAO-16-40), GAO recommended several steps to improve the data system, complete plans to revise its financial assurance procedures and revise cost reporting regulations, among other things. Interior concurred with the recommendations. Among other things, Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement should establish documented procedures to identify and track the idled infrastructure, the report said. To better ensure the government obtains sufficient financial assurances to cover decommissioning liabilities in the event of a default, Interior also needs to ensure that BSEE collect relevant data from the lessees. The report also recommended that Interior develop a plan and set a time frame to ensure the data system for managing offshore activities includes ways to accurately record estimated liabilities.
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