Providing safer and smarter offshore regulations

The Advertiser | Scott Angelle | May 23, 2018

President Donald Trump made a commitment to make regulation smarter, more efficient, and less burdensome. At the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), we’re working hard to keep his promise.

Recently, we proposed an update to regulations that cover offshore oil and gas drilling operations. In accordance with President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s directives, we conducted a review of offshore regulations. Our mandate: Maintain the United States’ position as a global energy leader and foster energy security and resiliency for the benefit of the American people, while ensuring that operations are safe and environmentally responsible.

Our proposed rule incorporates industry innovation, best science, and best practices to improve reliability, safety, efficiency, and environmental stewardship in recommending revisions to what is known as the Well Control Rule.

While most regulations contain common-sense provisions – which we are leaving untouched – some were promulgated over strong objections and concerns voiced during the public comment period.

Our review of the Well Control Rule’s 342 provisions found that approximately 18 percent could be modified to make the regulations smarter by reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens, updating and clarifying certain sections of the regulations, and revising certain regulations that have led, or might lead, to unintended consequences — all while ensuring safety and environmental protection.

For example, our proposed revision aims to reduce the risk of multiple failure points, improve the lifespan of critical safety components, and implement other safety improvements, while also eliminating duplicated requirements and using a performance-based approach to meet real-time monitoring requirements.

In addition, BSEE compared each of the proposed rule changes to the 424 recommendations arising from the 26 separate reports from 14 different organizations developed in the wake of, and in response to, the Deepwater Horizon incident.

After conducting 78,440 specific analyses, the team determined that none of the proposed rule changes would ignore or contradict any of those recommendations, or alter any provision of the 2016 Well Control Final Rule (or any other rule promulgated following Deepwater Horizon) in a way that would make the result inconsistent with those recommendations.

Read the full op-ed here.

Scott Angelle is director of the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

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