Biden administration proposes revisions to offshore drilling safety regulations

Sept. 20, 2022
The changes are expected to cost up to $2.4 million over a 10-year period.

Offshore staff

WASHINGTON, DC – The Biden administration has proposed offshore drilling safety measures that it said would help prevent oil spills and protect workers and the environment.

The announcement came during a recent conference call between Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and reporters.  

The proposal aims to restore some of the safety provisions put in place by the Obama administration in 2016 following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Trump administration had revised the rules in 2019 to reduce what the oil and gas industry said was a financial burden.

The rule revisions would tighten technical requirements for blowout prevention systems and mandate speedier failure investigations. They also require companies to submit failure data directly to BSEE rather than to third parties.

Under the new rule, inspections of such failures will also need to start sooner. Under the Trump administration, inspections needed to begin 120 days after a failure; they would now need to start in 90. Under the Obama rule, inspections had to be finished within 120 days.

The proposal is open to public comment until Nov. 14.

The Interior Department indicated that it would further tweak the rules, but the new proposal does not appear to be an exact replication of what was put forth during the Obama years.

The Biden administration estimates that the changes will cost between $2.2 million and $2.4 million over a 10-year period.