Image courtesy of Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement/Flickr.

The U.S Department of Interior proposed a new batch of offshore drilling regulations on Monday designed to bring blow out prevention rules in line with industry standards.

The regulations would require an annual review of repair and maintenance records for blowout prevention (BOP) equipment by an approved third party and set tighter reporting, testing and operational standards for BOP equipment and remotely operated vehicles.

Drillers would also have to make sure equipment is maintained according to manufacturer requirements, “good engineering practices and industry standards” and perform a complete break-down and inspection of BOP equipment at least every five years, currently the industry standard.

The regulations would also require drillers to use BOPs with double shear rams, the baseline industry standard, and would eliminate an opt-out provision for drillers not currently using those BOPs.

BOPs with double shear rams would need to include technology to keep drill pipes centered during shearing operations.

“Some experts believe that the failure of the Deepwater Horizon BOP stack to sever the drill pipe was due to the fact that the drill pipe was not centered,” the DOI said.

Drillers would also need to provide real-time monitoring of deepwater, and high temperature and high pressure drilling activities.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and DOI are accepting comments on a proposed change to the test frequency for workover and drilling BOPs that would extend the frequency from 14 days to 21 days.

“Both industry and government have taken important strides to better protect human lives and the environment from oil spills, and these proposed measures are designed to further build on critical lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and to ensure that offshore operations are safe,” Secretary Sally Jewell said.



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