Regulators in the Trump administration have proposed a rollback of Obama-era safety measures for offshore drilling that were imposed after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Scaling back the measures lowers the costs and regulatory burdens on oil companies, the Journal reports:
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which regulates offshore oil and gas drilling, estimates its proposed changes could save the industry more than $900 million over the next 10 years and reverse some risk-reduction measures that drillers consider burdensome.
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Scott Angelle previously said the Obama administration’s response to Deepwater Horizon didn’t take into account lessons learned in the industry by the immense financial burden the spill placed on BP and was too broad.
“It was obvious to me that back then there was a conclusion that it was a systemic problem, and yet I don’t believe there was evidence at the time that it was a systemic problem,” he said, according to the Journal.
Many regulations will be loosened, and for regulations that remain, the wording will be changed to allow for less government interpretation of the law and more leeway to apply the regulations ad hoc.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is proposing to keep in place standards for how much pressure drillers must maintain atop a well to prevent a blowout similar to Deepwater Horizon. However, the word “safe” will be removed from that section of the rule so regulators cannot “exceed their authority in interpreting the term” while issuing drilling permits, according to the Journal.
The preamble to the proposed rule reads:
“Based on BSEE experience during the implementation of the original [well control rule], BSEE has concluded that the term ‘safe’ creates ambiguity in that it could be read to suggest that additional unspecified standards, beyond those expressly stated, may be imposed in the approval of proposed drilling margins.”