The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on changes to its offshore oil and gas regulations.
The agency is seeking public input to modernise its financial assurance and risk management programme in order to better address potential costs and liability of offshore oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
The initial step includes a dialogue on BOEM’s current regulations, which are about 20 years old and have not kept pace with offshore infrastructure projects, including deepwater operations, existing industry practices and the increasing costs of decommissioning.
According to BOEM, the current regulations require lessees on the OCS to provide bonds or other alternative forms of financial assurance to cover current and future operations, like the decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure.
The agency plans to update its requirements and to develop a programme to assist in identifying, prioritising and managing the risks associated with industry activities on the OCS.
BOEM acting director Walter Cruickshank said: "We would like to work with industry and others to determine how to improve our regulatory regime to better align with the realities of aging offshore infrastructure, hazard risks and increasing costs of decommissioning.
"Today’s action is an important first step in initiating a dialogue on how to best enhance our risk management programme to better match current practices, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that industry meets its decommissioning responsibilities and the burden of decommissioning a facility on the Outer Continental Shelf does not fall to taxpayers."
The ANPR includes a comment period, which will last for 60 days and close on 20 October.