The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has released fact sheets for two new rules that impact offshore drilling: the Drilling Safety Rule and the Workplace Safety Rule. The announcement came on September 30, 2010.
The Drilling Safety Rule is an interim final rule that will be effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register, probably in the next several days. The rule creates requirements that address well bore integrity and well control equipment and procedures. It is based on recommendations provided in Secretary Salazar’s May 27, 2010 report to the President and codifies the requirements stated in Notice to Lessees No. 2010-N05 (NTL-05). BOEMRE will accept public comments on the rule for 60 days after the rule’s publication. Thereafter, the agency will determine whether to publish a new rule modified to address comments received or to confirm the interim rule as final without additional changes.
The second rule BOEMRE announced was a final Workplace Safety Rule. The Minerals Management Service proposed a Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) rule on June 17, 2009 – long before the Macondo blowout occurred. The final SEMS rule applies to all offshore oil and gas operations in Federal waters. Under the new rule, thirteen elements of the American Petroleum Institute’s Recommended Practice 75 are now mandatory. BOEMRE has indicated that it will consider in the near future whether additional safety management system provisions are appropriate given the events that occurred in the Macondo blowout.
Neither rule has yet appeared in full print, so details remain to be seen. That being said, it seems clear that these rules are merely the next phase in a continuing sweep of new regulation governing offshore energy development and production.