US lawmakers react to offshore hearing held in New Orleans

Offshore staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Sept. 15, the US House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing in New Orleans, LA, on the current state of offshore oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico.  The panel received testimony from US Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), industry representatives, and the US Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

The hearing focused on the impact of federal policies on energy development in the Gulf, including DOI’s proposed well control rule, and what actions can be taken to promote the responsible development of outer continental shelf resources. BSEE’s new well control rule was a topic of discussion.

Earlier this year, API took issue with the proposed rule, concluding that the “proposed rule is flawed and a number of provisions must be revised prior to the finalization of the rule. Industry shares the government’s goal of enhancing offshore safety while producing more oil and natural gas here at home.” It also noted that the rule had a “one size fits all” approach that could lead to “unintended consequences [that] may increase risk and decrease safety” and additional administrative burden for the US regulator.

"Federal regulations such as the proposed well-control threaten another moratorium by shutting down the majority of the Gulf rig fleet.  Some provisions of this rule could actually undermine safety, rather than enhance it," stated Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) after the hearing.

“Today’s field hearing was an excellent opportunity for members of Congress to hear more about the benefits and challenges of US offshore energy development, which accounts for nearly 20% of America's domestically-produced oil and natural gas,” National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Randall Luthi said. “NOIA applauds the committee for taking time to explore existing and pending regulations in the Gulf and for highlighting the fact that more regulations don't necessarily mean safer operations.  We agree with the committee that these efforts should be approached carefully and thoughtfully so as to minimize unintended consequences.

NOIA and its member companies are committed to safe and responsible offshore operations.  In a recent joint industry trade letter to BSEE, NOIA commented that some requirements in its proposed well control rule are so prescriptive that they might actually result in decreased safety offshore, undermining the intent of the rule.  Continued dialogue between regulators and industry experts will aid in the development of a final rule that is more workable and effective,” Luthi said.


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