The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) on Thursday issued final regulations covering blowout preventer (BOP) systems and well control, which officials said would reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.
The well control rule was proposed following the tragic Macondo well blowout in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which killed 11 men. Macondo’s BOP failed, according to an extensive investigation by operator BP plc and federal officials.
The well control rule that was put into place required oil and gas drillers to outfit BOPs with double-shear rams and required the shear rams to adhere to a design allowing drillpipe to be centered during shearing operations. Other requirements included more rigorous third-party certification, real-time monitoring of deepwater/high-temperature/high-pressure drilling activities and the use of accepted engineering principles.
At the direction of President Trump’s Executive Order 13795 and Interior Secretary Order 3350, the revised final rule reduced oversight on offshore oil and gas drilling, completions, workovers and decommissioning activities.
BSEE noted that the revisions left 274 of 342 original well control rule provisions unchanged. Sixty-eight provisions were identified as appropriate for revision, and 33 provisions were added to improve Outer Continental Shelf operations.
The final rule “puts safety first, both public and environmental safety, in a commonsense way,” said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. “Incorporating the best available science, best practices and technological innovations of the past decade, the rule eliminates unnecessary regulatory burdens while maintaining safety and environmental protection offshore.”
BSEE director Scott Angelle said the review had been “thorough, careful and tailored.” The agency “considered all 424 recommendations arising from 26 separate reports from 14 different organizations” following the Macondo blowout, which led to the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon platform.
BSEE said it received more than 118,000 comments on the proposed rule before it was finalized.