The U.S. Department of the Interior has released new regulations for well control, for the drilling of offshore oil wells on the U.S. outer continental shelf. The agency published a proposed version of the regulations in April 2015 and, having revised that version in the light of public comments, has now published the final rule. The regulations, which have come in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and have been developed by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, place stringent requirements on well design and the use of well control equipment such as blowout preventers.
Interior says that the regulations build on the findings of several investigations into the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and extensive consultations with industry, equipment manufacturers, federal agencies, academia and environmental organizations.
"The well control rule is a vital part of our extensive reform agenda to strengthen, update and modernize our offshore energy program using lessons learned from Deepwater Horizon," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said today when announcing the release of the new regulations. "I applaud BSEE for their work to develop a rule that takes into consideration an intensive analysis of the causes of the tragedy, advances in industry standards, best practices, as well as an unprecedented level of stakeholder outreach."
"We have made it a priority to engage with industry to strengthen our understanding of emerging technology, to participate with standards development organizations and to seek out the perspectives of other stakeholders," said BSEE Director Brian Salerno. "We collected best practices on preventing well control incidents and blowouts to inform the development of this rule. As a result this is one of the most comprehensive offshore safety and environmental protection rules ever developed by the Department of the Interior."
- ALAN BAILEY
See story in April 24 issue, available Friday, April 22 at www.PetroleumNews.com