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Drilling Rules Revised After BP Spill

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted August 17, 2012

The U.S. issued a final set of rules Wednesday governing offshore drilling safety requirements in the hope that these rules will help prevent major disasters like BP’s (NYSE: BP) fiasco in 2010.

According to the Interior Department, the rules mean an additional cost to the industry to the tune of $130.7 million per year in order to comply with all required inspections and testing.

Among these rules are requirements for professional engineers to sign off on a well’s casing and cementing, as well as third party verification of the strength of a rig’s blowout preventer. Blowout preventers can do much to reduce the impact of a BP-style mess.

Response from the oil industry was, predictably, ambivalent. Environmental organizations, on the other hand, deemed the new rules too lax.

From the Washington Post:

“Today’s action builds on the lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and is part of the administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand safe and responsible development of America’s domestic energy resources,” Jim Watson, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, said in a statement.

The American Petroleum Institute has called the rule vague and claims it would add confusion and risk to the industry’s system. In fact, the new rules reduce costs to the industry by almost $30 million, by eliminating some emergency rules that were imposed in the immediate aftermath of the BP spill.

The final ruling clarifies exactly what is required in well-control safeguards, clearly defines cement testing requirements, sets out requirements for dual mechanical barrier installations, and reduces estimates for time required for underwater testing.

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