The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010, resulting in death of 11 people, and in a release of approximately 200 million gallons into the sea, is considered as the worst oil spill in US waters. Since then, the Department has promulgated several rulemakings to improve worker safety and environmental protection, with a final rule in September 2016, revising Oil and Gas Production Safety Systems.
The Production Safety Systems Rule addresses safety and pollution prevention equipment, subsea safety devices and safety device testing for the production of oil and gas resources on the U.S. outer continental shelf (OCS).
The proposed amendments address provisions of the regulations that create an unnecessary burden on operators, while providing the same level of safety and protection of the environment, according to BSEE. The proposed revision would add gas lift shut down valves (GLSDVs) to the list of safety and pollution prevention equipment (SPPE) and would remove the requirement for operators to certify through an independent third party.
BSEE’s initial regulatory impact analysis estimates that the proposed amendments would reduce industry compliance burdens by at least $228 million over 10 years.
“I am confident that this revision of the Production Safety Systems Rule moves us forward toward meeting the Administration’s goal of achieving energy dominance without sacrificing safety,” said Director Scott A. Angelle. “By reducing the regulatory burden on industry, we are encouraging increased domestic oil and gas production while maintaining a high bar for safety and environmental sustainability.”
One out of every six barrels of oil produced in the United States is produced on the OCS. Annual production on the OCS totals over 550 million barrels of oil and 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. BSEE permits operations and conducts inspections on approximately 2,400 production platforms located in the three OCS regions: Arctic, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific.
“It’s time for a paradigm shift in the way we regulate the OCS,” Mr. Angelle said. “There was an assumption made previously that only more rules would increase safety, but ultimately it is not an either/or proposition. We can actually increase domestic energy production and increase safety and environmental protection.”