As part of President Obama’s commitment to promoting safe and responsible offshore oil and gas development, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director James Watson today announced another key step to strengthen both human safety and environmental protection on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The proposed rule, which will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, implements best practices and updates regulations regarding production safety systems and equipment used to collect and treat oil and gas from offshore production facilities.
“Our guiding focus throughout the development of this proposed rule has been and will continue to be worker safety and protecting the marine and coastal ecosystems by helping to reduce the number of production incidents resulting in oil spills, injuries and fatalities,” said Director Watson. “The commonsense changes we are proposing, which will address issues such as production safety systems, subsurface safety devices and safety device testing, will help regulations keep pace with changing technologies that have enabled the industry to explore and develop resources in deeper waters. The rule also implements best practices currently being deployed by industry leaders as we continue to strive for safety at all levels, at all times.”
The proposed rule will revise 30 CFR 250 subpart H, Oil and Gas Production Safety Systems, to address recent technological advances. This section of the regulations has not had a major revision since it was first published in 1988. During that period, industry’s use of subsea trees (the assembly mounted on a well head used to control the flow of oil and gas) and other technologies have evolved or become more prevalent offshore. These devices and materials include foam firefighting systems; electronic-based emergency shutdown systems; subsea pumping, waterflooding, and gaslift; and new alloys and equipment for high temperature and high pressure wells. The proposed rule ensures that the regulations governing their use and maintenance are keeping pace with industry’s advancements and that they address these newer and emerging safety technologies.
The public is invited to submit comments starting tomorrow through October 21, 2013. Comments can be submitted by any of the following methods:
• Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. In the entry titled Enter Keyword or ID, enter BSEE-2012-0005 then click search.
• Mail or hand-carry comments to the Department of the Interior (DOI); Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement; Attention: Regulations Development Branch;381 Elden Street, HE3313; Herndon, Virginia 20170-4817.
A copy of the proposed rule is available today for review in the Federal Register’s Reading Room at: www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx.