White House Eyeing Roll Back for Offshore Drilling Safety Standards

In this June 9, 2010 file photo, a worker uses a suction hose to remove oil washed ashore from the Deepwater Horizon spill, in Belle Terre, La.
(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

(CN) – The Trump administration will publish in the Federal Register on Friday a plan to roll back a suite of Obama-era regulations meant to improve the safety of offshore oil and national gas drilling.

The Obama administration standard was drafted in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and integrated some of the lessons learned in the calamity that left 11 dead, 17 injured and resulted in the uncontrolled discharged of an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil.

The lengthy notice to be published by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement leaves in place the Obama administration’s Well Control Rule, which tightened requirements for blowout preventers on oil rigs as a result of failures found in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

But President Donald Trump has ordered a review of that regulation, and the White House is still awaiting proposals from the Interior Department on how to modify it or do away with it altogether.

What the proposal to be unveiled Friday will do is eliminate the requirement for third parties to certify that certain safety equipment can withstand the most extreme conditions.

It also calls for reducing the mandate that certified professional engineers review drawings of all of a driller’s safety equipment.

According to the administration, third-party certification is not needed.

“Compliance with the various required standards … ensures that each device will function in the conditions for which it was designed,” the notice says.

The BSEE also says that going forward it would like reviews of diagrams by certified engineers to be done only on the “most” critical documents.

“This change would reduce the burden on operators by no longer requiring a [professional engineer] to certify as many diagrams and drawings,” the notice says.

In a statement, agency Director Scott Angelle said the move is intended to help meet the administration’s goal “of achieving energy dominance without sacrificing safety.”

“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,” Angelle said.

The bureau estimates the regulatory changes will save the oil and gas industry about $33 million a year.

According to the Federal Register notice, it is accepting public comments on the proposal for 30 days from the date of publication.

%d bloggers like this: