The Department of Interior Proposes a New Rule to Strengthen Offshore Safety
On September 12, 2022, the Department of Interior announced a new proposed rule to ensure offshore oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf are conducted with the utmost safety and oversight standards. This proposed rule builds on reformed instituted by the Department since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy that killed 11 offshore workers and caused billions of dollars of damages.
Following the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement adopted several recommendations from multiple investigative teams to improve the overall safety of offshore energy operation. The BSEE Director Kevin M. Sligh Sr. says the proposed revisions “will protect workers’’ lives and the environment from the potentially devastating effects of blowouts and offshore oil spills.”
To further protect human lives and the environment, the Department is proposing revisions that would:
- Require blowout preventer systems (BOPs) to be able to close and seal the wellbore to the well’s kick tolerance design at all times;
- Remove the option for operators to submit failure data to designated third parties and instead require the direct submittal of failure data to BSEE;
- Require failure analysis and investigations to start within 90 days instead of 120 days;
- Require independent third parties to be accredited by a qualified standards development organization;
- Specify that surface BOPs on existing floating facilities must follow the dual shear ram requirements when replacing an entire BOP stack;
- Require that remotely operated vehicles be capable of opening and closing each shear ram on a BOP; and
- Require the operator to provide test results to BSEE within 72 hours after completion of the tests if BSEE is unable to witness testing.
The proposed rule is open for the public to submit comments for 60-days and will close on November 14, 2022.
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