BSEE issues final drilling safety rule
WASHINGTON -- The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has announced the issuance of a final drilling safety rule. The rule makes final the important safety reforms put in place in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which significantly improved drilling safety by strengthening requirements for safety equipment, well control systems, and blowout prevention practices on offshore oil and gas operations, and which companies have effectively complied with for nearly two years. In that time over 750 drilling permits for shallow water and deepwater activities in the Gulf of Mexico have been approved.
The Drilling Safety Rule was initially issued under an emergency rule-making process to implement urgent safety measures immediately following the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. The Interim Drilling Safety Rule provided opportunities for public comment, and the Final Rule issued today includes refinements to the rule based on consideration of those comments.
The Drilling Safety Rule improves upon pre-Deepwater Horizon regulations by establishing new standards for casing and cementing, including integrity testing requirements; third-party certification and verification requirements; blowout preventer (BOP) capability, testing, and documentation obligations; and standards for specific well control training, to include deepwater operations.
The Final Rule refines the Interim Final Rule by addressing requirements for compliance with documents incorporated by reference; enhancing the description and classification of well-control barriers; defining testing requirements for cement; clarifying requirements for the installation of dual-mechanical barriers; and extending requirements for BOPs and well-control fluids to well completions, workovers, and decommissioning operations.