DOINews: BSEE Director's Blog: Ensuring Safe, Environmentally Responsible Offshore Development

Last edited 09/05/2019

BSEE Director Brian Salerno
BSEE Director Brian Salerno

BSEE Director's Blog

April 23, 2014

It's been four years since the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In the years since that tragic day we have seen the most aggressive and comprehensive reforms to offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight in our nation's history. It was out of these reforms that BSEE was born, and though we are still a young agency, we are ensuring that the United States can safely and responsibly develop its domestic energy resources. Specifically, we have strengthened requirements for:

Environmental Preparedness: This includes preparedness in the event of a blowout and worse case discharge. Deepwater operators are now required to have readily available the specialized equipment and systems necessary to control a subsea blowout, such as containment domes and capping stacks.

Well design: We published a drilling safety rule, which requires operators applying for a drilling permit to meet new standards for well-design, casing, and cementing. We are also reviewing comments on a proposed production safety systems rule that would provide the first updates to regulations for production safety systems since the late 1980's.

Drilling Safety: New rules have been put in place, which strengthened requirements for blowout preventer (BOP) maintenance and testing. Additionally, we expect to publish a comprehensive proposed rule this year that will address the myriad systems and processes involved in well control operations. Our intention with this proposed rule is to account for all aspects of well control operations, of which BOPs are only one component, to help avoid future multiple system failures that resulted in the loss of well control and explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon.

Safety Culture: We are also working with industry to create a culture of safety that goes beyond simple compliance with regulations and toward the adoption, by everyone, of a meaningful safety culture that permeates all offshore activities. The Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) II rule, published last year, is an important element in these efforts. The goals of SEMS is to support the continuous improvement of management systems, empowering employees and promoting a positive safety culture within industry.

Ocean Energy Safety Institute:The newly established Institute will provide an open forum for dialogue, shared learning and cooperative research among academia, government, industry, and other stakeholders. The Institute will facilitate research, development, training, and implementation of operational improvements in the areas of offshore drilling safety, environmental protection, blowout containment, and oil spill response.

All of these reforms were put in place to protect workers and the environment. We will continue to focus our energy on enhancing safety, reducing risk, and keeping pace with industry technologies. Through these initiatives and others, we will work to ensure that offshore development occurs in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

- BSEE Director, Brian Salerno

Was this page helpful?

Please provide a comment