HOUSTON — The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) stated that is had received “strong support and serious expressions of concern from across the global industry” in regards to the news of proposed changes to interpretations of the Jones Act by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The proposed policy modifications would change interpretations of rules in the Jones Act for vessels operating in the offshore oil and gas industry.
“Support and opinions have come from far and wide,” said IMCA Chief Executive Hugh Williams. “Collective opinion is that if the changes, as written, are adopted, they could have a potentially devastating impact on the U.S. offshore oil and gas industry.”
“U.S. companies involved in deepwater oil and gas exploration rely on sophisticated, highly specialized vessels for subsea installation construction support, pipe-umbilical laying, as well as maintenance of seafloor facilities. U.S.-flagged vessels represent less than 20 percent of such capability, and almost none of the top-of-the-range vessels, so foreign-flagged vessels are essential to maintain operations at their current levels. Indeed, at least five years could be needed to develop a fleet of U.S. vessels to meet the demands of the CBP’s proposal if adopted as proposed.”
“Five years is not what is on offer to the industry; instead, the 30-day comment period on the proposed changes is due to end on Aug. 16, and the revised interpretation is scheduled to be in place within 90 days.
“We urge all likely to be affected by the proposals to request an extension to the CBP’s comment period. Thirty days is a pitifully short time for changes of this kind to be adequately researched and analyzed. We would suggest a minimum of 90 days would be fairer to all concerned providing time for a proper operational impact assessment.”
IMCA is a trade association representing companies in the offshore, marine and subsea engineering industries.
The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA), a group representing U.S. vessel operators, shipyards, vessel equipment manufacturers and others, has spoken out in favor of the changes to the Jones Act. OMSA President Ken Wells called claims that the changes would harm the U.S. offshore oil and gas industry “not true” and “a little hysterical.”