You are on page 1of 26

The Impact of Drilling for Oil and Gas

in the Navy Virginia Capes Operating Area

Joseph F. Bouchard, Ph.D.


Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
January 12, 2018
Other than direct quotes from official government documents, the views expressed in this presentation are the author’s personal views and not those of the Department of Defense or the
Department of the Navy. Any use of photographs, images, charts or graphs does not imply official endorsement of this presentation by the Department of Defense or the Department of the Navy.
The Importance of the VACAPES OPAREA

The VACAPES Range Complex is an important component in the available suite of Navy training and testing capabilities. The
proximity of the VACAPES Range Complex to existing naval installations produces important advantages relating to features such
as travel times, costs of operations, and personnel tempo of operations that could not be achieved at any other range complex.
U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Final Environmental Impact Statement, March 2009, p. ES-4

Why the Entire Area is Required:


• Carrier Strike Group (CSG) Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) . A major, at-sea training event that
represents the first time before deployment that an aircraft carrier and its carrier air wing integrate operations with surface and
submarine units in an at-sea environment. During a COMPTUEX, participants are presented with event driven, mini-battle
problems and an event-driven final battle problem.

• Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX). An advanced training event that often includes other DoD services and/or Allied forces.
Training events in a JTFEX are non-scripted, scenario-driven battle problems that focus on mission planning and strategy, and
on the orchestration of integrated maneuvers, communication, and coordination. The strike group is presented with a threat-
driven scenario involving multiple threats that require advanced target identification and rules of engagement.
U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Final Environmental Impact Statement, March 2009, p. 2-10.
Training Conducted in the VACAPES OPAREA

Live Ordnance Training Conducted in VACAPES OPAREA

Bombing 500 lb, 1,000 lb, 2,000 lb and cluster bombs


Air-to-surface missiles Hellfire, Maverick, HARM, 2.75” rockets
Air-to-surface gunnery .50 caliber, 20 mm
Air-to-air missiles AIM-7, AIM-9, AIM-120, AIM-132
Air-to-air gunnery 20 mm
Surface gunnery .50 caliber, 25 mm, 76 mm, 5” gun
Surface-to-air missiles NATO Sea Sparrow, RAM, SM-2
Surface-to-air gunnery 20 mm, 76 mm, 5” gun

U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Final Environmental Impact Statement,


March 2009, pp. 2-12 To 2-18
DOD & Navy have long opposed drilling in VACAPES OPAREA

“To prevent such incompatible encroachment, DoD has


sought to discourage oil and gas development that
would interfere with current and future military uses of
the OCS.”
- DOD, October 7, 2005

Proposed Oil and Gas Lease Sale 220


“…the Navy requires unencumbered access to the full
expanse of this operations area.” (Virginia OCS Area)
“…the Department opposes oil and gas development
activity in this OCS planning location.”
- DOD, April 10, 2006 Virginia Capes
Operations Area
DOD and the Navy strongly objected to the August
2006 MMS lease sale proposal:
“…the special interest sale proposed for the Mid- Dare and Mid-Atlantic
Atlantic Region in late 2011 is not acceptable to the Cherry Point Planning Area
Department [of Defense] because of its incompatibility Operations
with the military training and testing conducted in this
area.” Areas
- DOD, November 27, 2006

“For safety reasons, the military is compelled to


discourage certain oil and gas activities where such “Proposed Sale 220 lies within the Virginia Capes (VACAPES) Range
activities would clearly be incompatible with military Complex where Navy conducts significant training and test and
missile flights, low-flying aircraft, and weapons testing evaluation activity. A portion of proposed Sale 220 overlaps a Navy
and evaluation.” identified Mission Critical Area (MCA) within Warning Area 386.
- Navy public affairs guidance, August 6, 2008 Development of oil and gas structures in this MCA would be
incompatible with Navy readiness and test activities conducted there.”
Department of the Navy, January 12, 2009
NASA Wallops Flight Facility Range Hazard Area
NASA Opposes Drilling in the Virginia OCS Area
“…NASA believes the Mineral Management Service has not adequately August 22, 2008
recognized the potential conflicts with OCS oil and gas activities within the NASA destroys rocket after it
Mid-Atlantic and Virginia proposed area, and the Department of Defense and
NASA activities within the same area. …We support the continued current veers off course
Presidential withdrawal and the annual Congressional moratoria. …Impacts
to NASA’s mission and other agencies utilizing the current range continue to
be a major issue and concern.”
November 27, 2006

The leasing area identified off of the Virginia coast is located in the Atlantic
Ocean beneath the previously approved launch vehicle flight corridors for
launches originating from our facility. The proposed area to be leased lies
within the debris hazard dispersion area cleared during launch operations.
Occupation of the hazard dispersion areas during launch operations by
drilling platforms, vessels and aircraft create opportunity for personnel injury
and property damage. Laws, rules, and regulations governing personnel and
property protection during space launches preclude launch while the hazard October 28, 2014
areas are occupied. Therefore, opening the Mid-Atlantic to oil and natural
gas exploration and development and use of the ocean structures required Orbital Sciences rocket
would cause grave and adverse impact on critical national security programs explodes shortly after launch
conducted from our facilities as well as upon the continued and historical
operations of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and the NASA Wallops
Flight Facility.
A single drilling platform in the Mid-Atlantic, independent of its location,
would prohibit launch on many desired flight paths. A few drilling platforms
in specific locations and certainly multiple platforms in various locations
would preclude all launch operations from MARS and Wallops, possibly
resulting in the closure of the facility.
- Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, November 26, 2008
(emphasis in original document)
VACAPES OPAREA is Critical to Navy Testing at Wallops Island
Importance of Surface Combat Systems Center (SCSC) Wallops Island
“The mission of the SCSC is to provide live integrated warfare systems in a maritime environment for fleet
operations, testing, evaluation training, research, and development. The SCSC ensures that ships, and the
systems which enable their defense, can effectively go into harm’s way to defend the interests of the united
states.”
The SCSC employs roughly 400 military, civilians, and contract or employees. The Navy base alone is a $50
million/year operation, with a $700 million investment.”
“…there are no other potential or actual locations on the East Coast that would satisfy our unique operational
needs, including open-ocean, limited surrounding development, technological support, and access to a
competent workforce. If we do not preserve the viability of this offshore area for training and research, we
would be unable to relocate to another area to perform the functions that are so vital to the national defense.”
Vice Admiral K.M. McCoy
Commander, Navy Sea Systems Command
August 18, 2009

Future Missions at the Surface Combat Systems Center (SCSC) Wallops Island
“Future projects may be at risk if Wallops Island cannot be utilized due to the lack of alternative
locations. For instance, Wallops Island already has an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) runway.
Its distance from man-made structures makes the unreliability of new technologies tolerable.”
“Other Navy projects that are expected to be located at Wallops Island include directed energy
weapons, the electromagnetic rail gun, vertical launch systems, and missile defense testing.
These projects could represent a high safety concern to large surface and/or sub-surface
structures off Wallops Island.”
Vice Admiral K.M. McCoy
Commander, Navy Sea Systems Command
August 18, 2009
SM-2 Ballistic Missile Interceptor Launch
Impact on Navy Test and Training Center on Wallops Island

Negative impact on the Surface Combat Systems Center, Wallops Island:


“The presence of any large, privately-owned structures off of Wallops Island would severely curtail our ability to
perform our mission. Oil rigs would interfere with radar transmissions and ship movements, and would limit our
use of drones, many of which skim the surface of the sea. Large rigs would also limit visibility to the horizon by
blocking sections behind the rigs from our radars.”
“In light of the foregoing [Congressionally mandated ban on oil and gas leases off the coast of Florida] , I
respectfully request that proposed oil and gas leases also be prohibited in the exclusive military warning areas
off the Mid-Atlantic Coast.”
“The continued existence of the SCSC is critical to Navy research, development, training, operations, test and
evaluation. Nearly half of all new and modernized ships of all classes are expected to be tested in cooperation
with the SCSC. The loss of this capacity would represent a significant risk to fielding tested and qualified
ships.”
Vice Admiral K.M. McCoy
Commander, Navy Sea Systems Command
August 18, 2009
DOD VACAPES Assessment, May 18, 2010

Unrestricted drilling areas


are shaded in green. The
unrestricted area in the
Surface Free Lane is
problematic due to close
proximity to live ordnance
training areas.

Source: DOD, “Report on the


Compatibility of DOD Activities with
Oil and Gas Resource Development
on the Outer Continental Shelf,”
February 15, 2010
DOD 2015 Assessment is MORE Restrictive than 2010 Assessment

* In the 2010 assessment


these two areas were left
open for unrestricted
drilling. In the 2015
assessment they have
“site specific stipulations.”
Maverick & HARM Missiles
Air-to-Surface Missiles & Gunnery, Surface Gunnery
Hellfire Missiles, 2K Lb Bombs
*
Submarine Submerged Transit Lane
*

Hellfire Missiles

Drilling and production platforms and sea bottom well heads


and pipelines adjacent to live ordnance training Source: "DoD Mission Compatibility Planning Assessment:
pose an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic accident BOEM 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas
Leasing Draft Proposed Program,” 30 October 2015, p. 31.
DOD Training Area Restrictions, Prospective Area & Water Depth

Oil and gas


industry will not
be interested in
drilling in very
deep water,
especially
beyond the
prospective area.

Opening the Mid-


Atlantic Planning
Area west to the
3-mile limit would
greatly increase
conflicts with
DOD training
ranges, as shown
in the 2010
assessment
The Fleet is here: it is our Patriotic Duty to Support It

Politicians and drilling advocates who state DOD and the Navy have not objected to offshore drilling are not being truthful.
The record is absolutely clear that drilling in the VACAPES OPAREA would have serious negative impact on the combat readiness of the fleet.

Oil and Ordnance Don’t Mix

Oil platforms burning after being hit by


U.S. Navy gunfire - April 1988
Impact on Other DoD Operating Areas
The proposal impacts EVERY DoD Operating Area on the Atlantic Coast, Pacific Coast and Gulf of Mexico

BOEM, 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Draft Proposed Program, p. 9.
DoD OPAREAs and Warning Areas
Navy Offshore Training Ranges

This illustrates the importance of the 1983


DOD/DOI MOU on the Outer Continental Shelf

Source: Department of the Navy, Vacapes Range Complex: Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas
Environmental Impact Statement, June 2008, p. 1-6.
Navy and Air Force Operating Areas
W-105
Atlantic Coast and Eastern Gulf of Mexico
W-106 W-107


All were protected by Presidential Moratorium
… until President Bush cancelled it
W-386


All were protected by Congressional Moratorium W-387
… until Congress failed to renew it
W-72
Atlantic Coast Ranges were protected by


President Obama’s Moratorium
W-110
Eastern Gulf of Mexico ranges are W-122
protected by law (GOMESA) until 2022 W-161/177


… unless Congress repeals it W-132/33/34
All of these Operating Areas are included in the
W-157 draft 2019-2024 proposed leasing program.
On January 9, 2018 the Interior Secretary

W-159

announced that Florida would be removed from the


W-158 proposed program. But Interior Department


statements indicate that only portions of the
planning areas near Florida’s coasts would be
removed.

Eastern Gulf of Mexico W-497


Moratorium Area

Key
Military Air Bases


NASA launch sites

Navy Ranges
Air Force Ranges
DOD 2015 Assessment of the Atlantic Planning Areas
Source: "DoD Mission Compatibility
Planning Assessment: BOEM 2017-
2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil
and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed
Program,” 30 October 2015, p. 30.
Importance of the Jacksonville Range Complex

Live Ordnance Training Conducted in the Jacksonville OPAREA

Bombing 500 lb., 1,000 lb. & 2,000 lb. bombs and cluster bombs
Air-to-surface missiles Hellfire, Maverick
Air-to-surface gunnery .50 caliber, 20 mm, M-240 machine gun
Air-to-air missiles AIM-7, AIM-9, AIM-120
Air-to-air gunnery 20 mm
Surface gunnery M-60, M-240 & .50 caliber machine guns, 20 mm, 25 mm, 76 mm & 5” guns
Surface-to-air missiles NATO Sea Sparrow, RAM, SM-2
Surface-to-air gunnery 20 mm, 76 mm, 5” gun

U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Final Environmental Impact Statement, March 2009, pp. ES-5 and 2-24 To 2-40
DOD 2010 Assessment of the Jacksonville OPAREA

Source: DOD, “Report on the


Compatibility of DOD Activities with
Oil and Gas Resource Development
on the Outer Continental Shelf,”
February 15, 2010
DOD 2015 Assessment of the Jacksonville OPAREA

Source: "DoD Mission Compatibility


Planning Assessment: BOEM 2017-
2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil
and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed
Program,” 30 October 2015, p. 31.
Impact of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act

The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 placed the entire area in
yellow off limits to exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas.
A Large Area of Eastern Gulf of Mexico is Outside Training Ranges

Key


Military Air Bases
Navy Ranges
Air Force Ranges

This area is of great interest Potential


to the oil and gas Drilling
industries. Area

W-158
Navy West Coast Training Ranges
Northwest Training Range Complex
Backup Slide
Differences Between DOD 2010 and 2015 Assessments
• The 2010 report overlaid the Virginia OCS Zone on the Virginia Capes Operating Area (OPAREA)
because BOEM had designated it Lease Sale Program Area 220. BOEM’s proposed 2017-2021
lease sale plan does not designate a separate Program Area for the Virginia OCS Zone, so DOD
did not show it on the maps in the 2015 report.

• 2010 report only covered areas within DOD training ranges; 2015 report covers entire OCS
Planning Areas. The entire OCS area off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, south Carolina and
Georgia outside the DOD training ranges have “site specific stipulations” to prevent interference
with military training.

• 2010 report covered entire Virginia Capes OPAREA; 2015 report only covers Virginia OCS zone
within the OPAREA. DOD excluded the Maryland OCS zone within the OPAREA because BOEM
did not include it in the 2017-2021 lease sale plan. The Trump Administration is unlikely to respect
the exclusion of the OCS area off the coast of Maryland.

• 2010 report covered the entire OCS area up to the 3 mile limit of Federal-controlled waters; 2015
report excluded the 50-mile standoff requested by Virginia in the Kaine Administration and per the
BOEM lease sale plan extended it south off the coasts of North Carolina, south Carolina and
Georgia, even though those states have not requested a 50-mile standoff. The Trump
Administration is unlikely to respect that a 50-mile standoff.

• Within the Virginia Capes OPAREA outside the 50-mile standoff, the areas designated “No oil and
gas activity,” “No permanent oil and gas surface structures,” and “site specific stipulations” are
nearly identical. The 2015 report designated those areas by specific lease sale blocks, so the
boundaries vary slightly from those in the 2010 report, which used the boundaries of subareas
within the OPAREA. This has the effect of making the “No oil and gas activity” and “No permanent
oil and gas surface structures” areas larger in the 2015 report than they were in the 2010 report.

• The major change is that the 2010 report left areas open for unrestricted drilling activities; the 2015
report designated those areas as requiring “site specific stipulations.” There are no unrestricted
drilling areas off the Atlantic Coast.