The Department of the Interior has published proposed new regulations for well control, for the drilling of offshore oil wells on the U.S. outer continental shelf. The proposed regulations, developed in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, place stringent requirements on well design and on the use of equipment such as blowout preventers.
"Both industry and government have taken important strides to better protect human lives and the environment from oil spills, and these proposed measures are designed to further build on critical lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and to ensure that offshore operations are safe," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, when announcing the publication of the proposed regulations. "This rule builds on enhanced industry standards for blowout preventers to comprehensively address well design, well control and overall drilling safety."
Brian Salerno, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Safety, said the proposed regulations would require improved controls over the repair and maintenance of well control equipment such as blowout preventers.
"It would provide verification of the performance of equipment designs through third party verification, enhanced oversight of operations through real-time monitoring viewed onshore, and require operators to, during operations, utilize recognized engineering best standards that reduce risk," Salerno said.
Publication of the proposed regulations in the Federal Register on April 15 will be followed by a public comment period.
- ALAN BAILEY
See story in April 19 issue, available online Friday, April 17 at www.PetroleumNews.com