June 23, 2022

U.S. Customs and Border Security (CBP) has issued a ruling stating that the Jones Act does not utilize to many specific offshore wind pursuits, which permits those actions to be executed by international vessels.

One particular of the complicating aspects to offshore wind improvement in the United States is the applicability of the Jones Act, and whether the Jones Act enables associated improvement pursuits to be carried out by foreign vessels.  The Jones Act limitations the transportation of “merchandise” in between U.S. coastwise factors to vessels that are built and registered in the United States and are owned by a U.S. citizen.  CBP had earlier determined that the Jones Act applies, generally, to the transportation of goods from a U.S. port and other coastwise points to wind turbine generator foundations.  As these types of, the Jones Act, and its prohibition in opposition to the use of a lot more readily accessible international wind turbine set up vessels (WTIVs), has sophisticated and, in some instances, included considerable value to the installation of offshore turbines.  A current CBP ruling offers corporations concerned in offshore wind projects clearer steerage on the applicability of the Jones Act to specific specific windfarm set up actions. 

In its April 2022 ruling, the CBP analyzed the applicability of the Jones Act to numerous particular offshore wind activities and in quite a few cases decided the Act does not implement, which permits those activities to be performed by foreign vessels.  For illustration, the CBP confirmed that a foreign WTIV can shift crew associates and elements to the operate web page for the reason that crew users are not “passengers” and work products are not “merchandise,” as all those terms are outlined in the Jones Act.  Similarly, a overseas WTIV might get there in U.S. waters and install foundations and other venture components it has transported from a overseas port. 

The ruling also addresses the use of international vessels in setting up underwater cables, confirming that the Jones Act does not use to vessels laying electrical cables in U.S. waters among two U.S. details, or to vessels loading that cable at a U.S. port.  Similarly, the use of foreign cable lay vessels (which produce, lay and bury cables on the sea ground), is permitted, as that exercise is not deemed “dredging,” a function historically reserved for Jones Act-compliant vessels.  The ruling also confirms prior CBP steering with respect to the set up of scour security, which is applied to avoid reduction of seabed sediment all around the base of an offshore construction.  Overseas vessels are permitted to decide up rocks in a U.S. port, transportation them offshore, and position them at a work web page – supplied the rocks are the first factor remaining extra to the pristine sea ground.

In 1 occasion, the CPB’s April ruling reverses an before placement with regards to the set up of cable security in favor of Jones Act compliance.  Beforehand, overseas vessels had been permitted to load concrete mats and position them on top rated of laid piping, as the existing pipe was not regarded as a U.S. point.  Dependent on an interpretation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, nevertheless, the CBP decided that the laying of an electrical cable on the seabed was supposed to be built a U.S. stage, as it is a implies of transporting resources.  As a final result, set up of concrete mats to guard the piping running from the offshore structure demands the use of a Jones Act-compliant vessel.

Even though the applicability of the Jones Act to distinct offshore wind growth routines will continue to require very careful analysis, the CBP’s April ruling gives offshore wind developers some clarity shifting ahead.


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