US implements new offshore rules
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 15, 2016 – The Obama administration, through the US Department of Interior, announced a set of new regulations governing US offshore oil and gas projects late on Thursday. Aimed at preventing major accidents such as the 2010 Macondo well blowout, the rules apply to design requirements and operational procedures.
Work on well control casings and subsea containment, equipment such as blowout preventers and cementing jobs will be subject to more stringent requirements. The new regulations also call for third-party review and inspection of equipment and real-time monitoring.
“The well control rule is a vital part of our extensive reform agenda to strengthen, update and modernise our offshore energy programme using lessons learned from Deepwater Horizon,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.
The measures come some six years after the Gulf of Mexico accident that claimed the lives of 11 people and caused extensive environmental damage. According to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, there have been 496 fires and explosions, 22 losses of well control, 11 spills, 1,066 injuries and another 11 fatalities since the 2010 blowout.
Major oil companies were vocal in the opposition to the new rules in the run up to the announcement. ExxonMobil, along with Chevron and Anadarko, claimed the decision would impose additional costs on oil companies to the tune of USD 25 billion and all but kill off spending in the Gulf of Mexico. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement countered by saying costs would amount to USD 1 billion over a 10-year period.