US modifies drilling rules for Outer Continental Shelf

The following is text of a news release from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE):

(WASHINGTON) — The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) on Thursday announced updated oil and gas production safety systems regulations. BSEE’s revisions reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens while ensuring that operations remain safe and environmentally responsible. The bureau’s efforts on regulatory reform encourage responsible energy exploration and production on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to maintain the nation's position as a global energy leader.

“BSEE has incorporated industry innovation, best science and best practices in the Oil and Gas Production Safety Systems Rule to ensure safety and environmental sustainability,” said BSEE Director Scott Angelle. “When critical energy resources are produced safely and responsibly, we build a stronger energy future for the nation. We can achieve robust energy production only if operations are conducted in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner.”

The Oil and Gas Production Safety Systems Rule, also known as Subpart H, addresses safety and pollution prevention equipment, subsea safety devices and safety device testing for the production of oil and gas resources on the OCS. In keeping with executive and secretarial orders issued in 2017, BSEE carefully analyzed all 484 provisions in the original 2016 Production Safety Systems Rule and determined that of 84 of those provisions – less than 18 percent of the original rule – were appropriate for revision or deletion. The final rule also adds seven new provisions.

BSEE compared all provisions in the final rule to the 424 recommendations arising from 26 separate reports from 14 different organizations developed in the wake of and in response to the Deepwater Horizon incident, and determined that these changes to Subpart H will not contradict or ignore any of those recommendations, nor will they alter any provision of the 2016 rule in a way that would make the result inconsistent with those recommendations. Nothing in this final rule will alter any elements of other rules promulgated since the Deepwater Horizon incident, including the Drilling Safety Rule (October 2010), SEMS I (Oct. 2010), SEMS II (April 2013), and 2016 WCR (April 2016). 

In addition to measures that reduce unnecessary notifications and clarify when operators must provide documentation, the final rule codifies 12 updated industry standards. The newly codified standards will now become enforceable regulation.

The Oil and Gas Production Safety Systems Rule was published in the Federal Register on Friday.

By Professional Mariner Staff