BSEE seeks to ease offshore safety rules

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement proposes to revise offshore production safety requirements in ways it says will lighten the oil and gas industry’s regulatory load.

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement proposes to revise offshore production safety requirements in ways it says will lighten the oil and gas industry’s regulatory load. The agency’s Dec. 28 action followed a comprehensive review of the regulations to comply with President Donald J. Trump’s Jan. 30 executive order for federal agencies to review their regulations and repeal those which create unnecessary financial and compliance burdens.

BSEE Director Scott A. Angelle said that the proposed changes address Production Safety Systems Rule provisions which have created such burdens for offshore producers, drilling contractors, and service and supply companies while providing the same safety and environmental protections.

“There was an assumption made previously that only more rules would increase safety, but ultimately it is not an either-or proposition,” he said. “We can actually increase domestic energy production and increase safety and environmental protection.” Comments will be accepted through Jan. 29.

The proposed changes, which were scheduled to appear in the Dec. 29 Federal Register, would:

● Add gas-lift shutdown valves to the list of safety and pollution prevention equipment (SPPE).

● Revise requirements for SPPE to clarify the existing regulations and remove the requirement for operators to certify through an independent third party that each device is designed to function in the most extreme conditions to which it will be exposed and that the device will function as designed. Compliance with various industry standards ensures that each device will function in the conditions for which it was designed, BSEE said.

● Clarify failure reporting requirements.

● Clarify and revise some of the production safety system design requirements, including revising requirements for piping schematics, simplifying requirements for electrical system information, clarifying when operators must provide certain documents to BSEE, and clarifying when operators must update existing documents.

● Clarify requirements for Class 1 vessels and for inspection of the fire tube for tube-type heaters.

● Clarify the requirement to notify the district manager before commencing production.

● Make other conforming changes to ensure consistency within the regulations and minor edits.

Contact Nick Snow atnicks@pennwell.com

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