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The latest step taken by the Trump administration in supporting the energy industry has been the relaxation of safety rule for offshore oil and gas production, put in place following the Deepwater Horizon disaster caused by BP in 2010, Reuters reports, citing a document its reporters had seen.
The Deepwater Horizon platform exploded in April 2010, resulting in 11 casualties, many injured and the worst marine environmental disaster in the history of U.S. oil, with almost 5 million barrels leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. The disaster cost BP around US$65 billion in settlements and compensation.
Afterwards, the Obama administration began a quest to tighten drilling rules offshore, which led to a series of new regulations that oil companies complained will only raise their costs but have no palpable impact on safety.
Now, the Interior Department has revised the safety systems regulation put into place in 2016, which means that, for instance, a requirement that an independent third party needs to certify devices used in well-drilling, will no longer apply. Also, changes have been introduced in the requirements for oil and gas producers to notify the relevant government agencies about the start of production from a well and to report failures of their equipment.
Echoing the main concerns voiced by the energy industry when the rules were introduced, the Interior Department said in the document seen by Reuters that, “certain provisions in that (2016) rulemaking created potentially unduly burdensome requirements for oil and natural gas production operators on the Outer Continental Shelf, without meaningfully increasing safety of the workers or protection of the environment.”
Naturally, as much as the new changes have pleased the energy industry, they have angered environmentalists. Reuters quoted a Sierra Club official as saying the changes, which will probably be made public later today, are an “example of this administration’s shameless attempts to please corporate polluters, no matter the cost to workers’ safety, our health, or the environment.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.