The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPR”) on September 24, 2014 seeking comments on improving safety for operations related to helicopters, helidecks and aviation fuel systems on fixed offshore facilities. Comments on the ANPR are due November 24, 2014. The ANPR was issued just days after BSEE and the U.S. Coast Guard entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (“MOA”) that, among other things, recognizes BSEE’s role as the lead agency with responsibility for most issues related to aircraft landing and refueling at fixed offshore facilities.
In the ANPR, BSEE invites comments on whether to incorporate in its regulations certain industry and/or international standards for design, construction, and maintenance of offshore helidecks, as well as standards for aviation fuel quality, storage and handling. BSEE also invites comments on whether it should incorporate existing industry or international standards, with modifications, and/or develop and propose new government regulatory standards for the safety of helidecks and aviation fuel systems. In this regard, BSEE seeks comment on whether it should require existing facilities to retrofit any helidecks or aviation fuel systems that fail to comply with BSEE’s new regulations. As an alternative to incorporating or developing such standards, BSEE invites comments on whether it should require the submission of aviation-related safety plans for helidecks and aviation fuel systems on offshore facilities. Finally, BSEE seeks information on past accidents or other incidents involving helidecks, helicopters, or aviation fuel on or near fixed offshore facilities.
The MOA between BSEE and the Coast Guard is designed to guide the two agencies in coordinating their regulatory activities concerning systems and operations on fixed offshore facilities and serves as a formal agreement between them as to which agency has the lead for regulatory oversight of those systems and operations. Annex 1 to the MOA includes a table listing the lead agency for various specified systems and operations.
Industry participants should review and consider filing public comments in response to this ANPR, which is based on BSEE’s regulatory reach into helicopter and air-services equipment on offshore platforms.