NewsCovering Louisiana


U.S. Department of Interior announces proposed revisions to strengthen Offshore safety

Posted at 4:58 PM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-12 17:58:10-04

The Department of Interior has announced a new proposed rule that will strengthen offshore safety standards.

The proposed rule ensures offshore oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf are conducted with the highest level of safety and oversight standards.

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.

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 ClimateCrisis.

Secretary Deb Haaland said, “The Biden-Harris administration is committed to the highest standards of worker safety and environmental protections. This proposed rulemaking will help ensure that offshore energy development utilizes the latest science and technology to keep people safe. As our nation transitions to a clean energy economy, we must commit to strengthening and modernizing offshore energy standards and oversight.”

Following the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010, BSEE adopted several recommendations from multiple investigation teams to improve the overall safety of offshore energy operations, which led to the publication of the 2016 Well Control Rule.

However, in May 2019 BSEE published a final rule that weakened certain safety provisions.

The new proposed rule would revise some of the items tat were amended or rescinded in 2019.

The Department's proposed revisions to further protect human lives and the environment include the following:

  • 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.

Publication of the proposed rule also initiates a 60-day public comment period. Members of the public may submit comment on the proposed rulemaking until November 14, 2022.