WASHINGTON, D.C. – As a follow to its final investigative report on the Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) is continuing to define its reforms for offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight.
For drilling safety, BOEMRE says the following:
• Operators must demonstrate preparations to response to a blowout and worst-case discharge
• Permit applications must meet new standards for well design, casing and cementing, and these must be third-party certified by a professional engineer. Standards for exploration and development, equipment, safety, environmental safeguards, and oversight also are under development.
• A corporate compliance statement and review of subsea blowout containment resources is required
• BOEMRE will begin to use multi-person inspection teams.
On workplace safety, BOEMRE says it has imposed requirements for offshore operators to “maintain comprehensive safety and environmental programs.” This includes “performance-based standards for operations, equipment, safety, environmental safeguards and management oversight of operations and contractors. Also, a Safety and Environmental Management System must be developed and maintained.
The proposed SEMS rule is part of a series of reforms implemented by the Department of the Interior since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The proposed rule, which adds to the Workplace Safety Rule issued in October 2010, will add greater protection by supplementing operators’ SEMS programs with employee training, engaging personnel in safety management, and strengthening auditing procedures by requiring them to be completed by independent third parties, says BOEMRE.
BOEMRE is accepting public comments on the proposed regulations until Nov. 14, 2011.
The reorganization of the agency into two parts is continuing, and recruitment of personnel is under way.
Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich also have established an Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee to provide guidance on offshore drilling safety, well containment, and spill response.