The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) today issued a Notice to Lessees (NTL) that provides further guidance on the previously issued Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) rule.
The SEMS rule, also referred to as the Workplace Safety Rule, is designed to reduce the likelihood of accidents, injuries and spills that occur in connection with offshore oil and gas exploration and development activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The NTL consolidates guidance and information to help operators comply with the requirements of the rule. Operators are required to implement a SEMS program by November 15, 2011.
In October 2010, BSEE’s predecessor agency, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), issued the Workplace Safety Rule requiring offshore oil and gas operators to develop and maintain a SEMS program (http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Salazar-Announces-Regulations-to-Strengthen-Drilling-Safety-Reduce-Risk-of-Human-Error-on-Offshore-Oil-and-Gas-Operations.cfm). NTL 2011-N09 provides additional information on SEMS, which is a comprehensive safety and environmental impact program designed to reduce the human and organizational errors that are the causes of many work-related accidents and offshore oil spills. The requirements apply to all OCS oil and gas operations and the facilities under BSEE jurisdiction, including drilling, production, construction, well workover, well completion, well servicing, and pipeline activities.
“Operators that develop and maintain a robust workplace safety program can help to achieve dramatic improvements in the overall safety of their operations for their workers while at the same time enhancing protection of the environment,” said BSEE Director Michael R. Bromwich. “If these programs are implemented conscientiously, we expect a decrease in the frequency and severity of offshore accidents. Based on my meetings with individual operators, I am confident that the vast majority of operators will be ready with their SEMS programs by the November 15 compliance date. Today’s guidance should help address any lingering questions.”
This NTL collects and consolidates the guidance and clarifications that have emerged from workshops and discussions with industry and interest groups over the past year. In the interest of maximizing transparency, the NTL also addresses issues relating to how BSEE will implement its SEMS compliance program, and describes the anticipated interactions between BSEE personnel and the operator community. No new requirements are contained in this document. BSEE issues NTL’s as guidance documents to clarify, supplement and provide details about certain BSEE regulatory requirements. NTL 2011-N09 can be found at: http://www.bsee.gov/uploadedFiles/11-N09.pdf