The Biden Administration is toughening the rules on well integrity and blowout prevention at offshore oil and gas rigs that were loosened under former president Donald Trump.
The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) published on Tuesday the final well control rule, which strengthens testing and performance requirements for blowout preventers and other well control equipment, BSEE said in a statement.
The rules, imposing new technical regulations on drilling and drilling equipment, were initially introduced in 2016 by President Obama in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 that killed 11 people and resulted in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
But in 2019, the Trump Administration rolled back some offshore oil drilling requirements imposed after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, after complaints from the oil industry that some of the regulations were burdensome without necessarily improving safety.
While the oil industry and its organizations argued at the time that the easing of some requirements was good for the offshore industry and technological development, opponents said that relaxing rules would endanger oil workers and the environment.
The Biden Administration is now reinstating some provisions but is not completely reversing the eased Trump-era rules.
“These improvements are necessary to ensure offshore operations, especially those related to well integrity and blowout prevention, are based on the best available, sound science,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said.
BSEE Director Kevin Sligh commented,
“This rule strengthens testing and performance requirements for blowout preventers and other well control equipment, provides for timely and robust analyses and investigations into failures, and clarifies reporting requirements to ensure we have appropriate visibility over information and data critical to maintaining well integrity.”
The new final rule “incorporates key lessons learned from operator experience, incident data regarding blowout preventers, and well integrity since the publication of the 2016 rule and revises or rescinds certain modifications that were made in the 2019 rule,” BSEE said.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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