The U.S. Department of the Interior plans to announce on Thursday the final draft of proposals to roll back some offshore oil drilling requirements imposed after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, after complaints from the oil industry that some of the regulations are burdensome without necessarily improving safety, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing two people familiar with the plans.
The Obama Administration imposed new technical regulations on drilling and drilling equipment in 2016, after reviewing the requirements and what went wrong in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 that killed 11 people and resulted in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
Now, according to Bloomberg’s sources, the Trump Administration is set to ease some of the rules, such as allowing third parties—not only Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)-approved organizations—to inspect and certify the so-called blowout preventers at offshore oil platforms.
In proposed rules from May 2018, BSEE said that its consultations with the industry showed that “oil and natural gas operators raised concerns about certain regulatory provisions that impose undue burdens on their industry, but do not significantly enhance worker safety or environmental protection.”
“Other stakeholders suggested that certain regulatory requirements do not properly account for advances or limitations in technology and processes,” the bureau said.
According to the API, the updated offshore well control rule would improve on its 2016 predecessor “by providing flexibility to meet specific challenges across a variety of offshore conditions while encouraging innovation and technologies that help improve safety.”
Commenting on the current well control rule, the API says: “Unfortunately, this one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t consider the unique characteristics of every well, from its geology and depth to the pressure and temperature. These prescriptive requirements could also stifle innovation and implementation of new operational technologies.”
While the oil industry and its organizations argue that the easing of some requirements is good for the offshore industry and technological development, opponents say that relaxing rules would endanger oil workers and the environment.
“As the public just saw with the Boeing crashes, letting the offshore drilling industry regulate itself is a recipe for disaster,” Amit Narang, a regulatory policy expert at watchdog group Public Citizen, told Bloomberg.