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US agency proposes relaxed offshore drilling safety rules

Off shore oil rig (Wikimedia Commons/Berardo62)
Off shore oil rig (Wikimedia Commons/Berardo62)

The Department of the Interior’s (DoI) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has issued a provisional ruling to relax standards, aligning with an executive order in 2017 to review regulations concerning energy production.

The proposed rule would affect the Production Safety Systems section of the Code of Federal Regulations.

One of the most significant changes is the proposal is to allow operators to use safety and pollution control equipment without an independent third party first confirming that the equipment will perform under extreme circumstances.

Director of the Bureau, Scott A. Angelle, said in a press release: “I am confident that this revision of the Production Safety Systems Rule moves us forward toward meeting the Administration’s goal of achieving energy dominance without sacrificing safety,” adding that “By reducing the regulatory burden on industry, we are encouraging increased domestic oil and gas production while maintaining a high bar for safety and environmental sustainability.”

The rule was last updated by the DoI in late 2016, which clarified requirements for the use of the ‘best available and safest technology’ on rigs.

President Trump’s March 2017 ‘energy independence’ order directs all government agencies to review policies that “potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources”.

However, a Reuters audit of shareholder reports from the fifteen largest oil companies found that thirteen of them said that regulations did not affect business.

Off shore oil rig (Wikimedia Commons/Berardo62)