Offshore lease owners and operators will be subject to new fees to recover costs of inspections conducted during fiscal 2010, the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) said.

“These fees, mandated by Congress, will help MMS and taxpayers recover some of the costs associated with offshore inspections, which include safety and environmental compliance inspections of facilities and equipment, said MMS Director Liz Birnbaum.

MMS personnel inspect about 3,400 oil and gas facilities each year to ensure that safety and environmental requirements are met and to check the calibration of meters and gauges that record the amount of oil/gas produced from a particular lease.

The MMS inspection fees cover all bottom-founded structures and floating production facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in the Gulf of Mexico and are the result of legislation signed by the president on Oct. 30.

“Public Law 111-88, Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010,” directs MMS to collect $10 million for safety and environmental compliance inspections that occur on OCS oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico and a few in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

The law establishes the fee for inspection activities based on the number of wells per facility. The inspection fees for 2010 include $2,000 for facilities with no wells but with processing equipment and gathering lines; $3,250 for facilities with one to 10 wells with any combination of active or inactive wells; and $6,000 for facilities with more than 10 wells with any combination of active or inactive wells.

The notice is available at www.mms.gov.

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