Industry speaks out on proposed well control rule

Offshore staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. and HOUSTON Several industry bodies have issued responses to Tuesday’s US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) well control rule.

The proposed well control rule could increase risk and decrease safety in offshore operations, API told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday.

“The oil and natural gas industry, in coordination with federal regulators, has made great strides in making offshore energy exploration safer than ever while advancing the energy security of our nation,” said Erik Milito, API upstream group director, in testimony at the Senate hearing. “We are committed to working with the government to improve the proposals and achieve the mutually desired objective of safety by getting this rule right.”

API and six fellow trade associations, the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC), the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), the Offshore Operators Committee, the Petroleum Equipment & Services Association and the US Oil and Gas Association, drew on the expertise of more than 300 subject matter experts from more than 70 companies who expended tens of thousands of collective hours to provide BSEE a technically-based set of comments to aid in its efforts to create a robust and effective well control rule.

However, API said, the “compressed comment period of 90 days did not allow for full technical comments prior to a rulemaking. As a result, as proposed, the rule reflects a one-size-fits-all approach that does not recognize the variability of operations and engineering specific to each well.”

“Prescriptive requirements will only serve to stifle innovation and delay implementation of new technologies that could improve safety and operations,” said Milito. “Working together, we can develop practical final rules that are ultimately both feasible and effective for the future of safe and responsible energy development.”

Elizabeth Craddock, IADC vice president, Policy and Government Affairs said:

“At IADC, we welcome any opportunity to work collaboratively and constructively with BSEE and Director Salerno, as we believe in the need for better, more efficient regulation. That is regulation that is fair, fit for purpose, practically implementable and affordable for our industry.  That is why we, along with our industry partners, have requested more collaboration with BSEE to ensure that this rule does result in the safety improvements intended, because as currently drafted, the rule could result in unintended consequences which lead to less safe drilling. These issues can be addressed and we hope BSEE will make the changes needed.

“Oil and gas will continue to fuel our economy and the world’s economy for decades to come. IADC’s mission is to partner with regulators to craft common sense regulations that protect workers and the environment, while also enabling robust development offshore. These goals are not mutually exclusive.”

NOIA President Randall Luthi said:

“It is in the best interest of all concerned, including the federal regulators, industry, Congress, other stakeholders, and the general public, to get the Well Control Rule right.  Congress has certainly expressed its interest in the process surrounding the rulemaking as evidenced by today’s hearing and the earlier House Natural Resources Committee hearing in New Orleans. 

“A rule as complex and sweeping as this proposal requires extensive and comprehensive dialogue between drilling engineers and experts and the regulators.  While there has been progress in reaching agreement and understanding on some areas of the proposed rule, we still have substantial concerns with its prescriptive and one-size fits all provisions, which may have the unintended consequence of increasing, rather than decreasing, risk.

“Safety offshore is paramount, and rushing to finalize this rule by early 2016 could produce regulations that may not meet the most current safety standards and technology. This is truly a case where additional collaboration with industry experts will result in a better, more effective and workable rule. The quality of the final rule should take precedence over a politically-imposed deadline.”


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