Posted on September 14, 2022
The Department of the Interior has 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, according to Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s release. This proposed rule from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) builds on reforms instituted by the Department since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy that killed 11 offshore workers, caused billions of dollars of damage, and made lasting impacts to the environmental landscape in the Gulf of Mexico.
Proposed revisions to the 2019 Well Control Rule, which will be in the Federal Register this week, focus on well integrity and blowout prevention. These innovations will help protect human lives and the environment by incorporating the latest technology and the lessons learned from operator experience and incident data since the current rule was adopted.
The Department is proposing the revisions after concluding its review of the current rule in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order 13990, Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.
In the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010, BSEE adopted several recommendations from multiple investigation teams to improve the safety of offshore energy operations, leading to the publication of the 2016 Well Control Rule. In May 2019, BSEE published a final rule that weakened certain safety provisions. Today’s proposed rule would revise some of the items that were amended or rescinded in 2019.
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.