The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

API Responds to New Offshore Rules

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted September 30, 2010

The Interior Department issued two new safety rules today, setting what Secretary Salazar has called the "gold standard" for offshore oil and natural gas development. The new rules, which cover blowout preventers (BOPs), emergency response, well design and training, are part of the administration's response to the Deepwater Horizon accident.

  • The Drilling Safety Rule codifies several requirements recommended in Secretary Salazar's May 27th report to President Obama. It addresses well cementing and casing practices, the use of drilling fluids, and strengthens the use of BOPs and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). The rule is effective immediately.
  • The Workplace Safety Rule requires offshore operators to have programs in place to identify potential hazards as well as procedures to reduce risks. The rule makes mandatory API Recommended Practice 75, which has been a voluntary program providing guidance on offshore safety initiatives and environmental protection.

"These two rules are part of broader series of reforms we are undertaking to reduce the risks of offshore energy operations," said Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM).

API's Upstream (exploration and production) Director Erik Milito responded by acknowledging the importance of safety requirements and encouraging the administration to lift the deepwater offshore moratorium.

"Unpredictable, extended delays in permit review and approval discourage investment in new projects, which hampers job creation, reduces revenue to the government, and restricts energy production," Erik said in a statement. He added, "Every day the moratorium remains exacts an economic penalty on the people of the Gulf and on our nation."

In announcing the new rules today, Secretary Salazar provided no information on when the moratorium might be lifted. Some administration officials have said it could be lifted before it expires on November 30.