Impending offshore well control rule still has problems, API says

Saying that it could be issued soon, an American Petroleum Institute official repeated concerns that the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s proposed offshore well control rule could cause more problems than it solves.

“It will affect offshore energy projects for years to come,” said Erik Milito, API Upstream Group Director Erik Milito told reporters during an Apr. 13 teleconference. “If left unchanged from the proposal, the flaws in the rule could lead to increased risks and decreased safety in offshore operations.”

He said that API expects the rule to be finalized “any day now. One reason is that the anniversary of the Apr. 20, 2010, Macondo deepwater well accident and crude-oil spill is coming up. Another is that the administration simply wants to get it done. We believe it will be very soon.”

Milito said that API and other oil and gas trade associations in their joint comment provided an economic analysis that showed the rule could have a more than $30 billion impact, in contrast to the government’s $1 billion estimate.

“We’d like to see a final rule that deals with the drilling margin, real-time monitoring, and cementing issues are addressed in a way that reduces risk and enhances safety,” he explained. “We provided comments. We provided expert input. We explained in detail that these proposals are not advancing safety, and suggested a way that it can be addressed.”

Responding to US Reps. Rob Bishop and Ken Calvert’s Apr. 1 suggestion that BSEE provide an additional 180 days for comments to be submitted because the rule has changed substantially from its original proposal (OGJ Online, Apr. 4, 2016), Milito said this was indicative of the Obama administration’s approach to developing oil and gas regulations.

“It should not be rushing to get them done, whether it involves controlling methane emissions or US Outer Continental Shelf development,” he maintained. “There’s a lot going on. We’re being asked to comment on these and other highly complex and technical issues.”

Contact Nick Snow at

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