The US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has released the final well control regulations to minimise the risk of an offshore oil or gas blowout that could result in the loss of life, serious injuries or extensive harm to the environment.
The latest regulations represent one of the major initiatives taken by Interior Department towards safety and protection of the environment following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico where Macondo well blowout killed 11 people.
The new regulations are being built upon several findings and recommendations from various investigations and reports linked to the root causes of Deepwater Horizon and in consultation with industry groups, equipment manufacturers, federal agencies, academia and environmental organisations over the last six years in a bid to improve and modernise offshore energy standards and oversight.
A comprehensive regulation, the final rule addresses all aspects of well control, such as more stringent design requirements and operational procedures for critical well control equipment used in oil and gas operations on the US Outer Continental Shelf.
The final rule specially addresses the full range of systems and equipment associated with well control operations, with a focus on blowout preventer requirements, well design, well control casing, cementing, real-time monitoring and subsea containment.
Designed to enhance the equipment reliability, especially for blowout preventers and blowout prevention technologies, the measures mentioned in the rule require operability of equipment through rigorous testing and the continuous oversight of operations in order to improve the reliability of equipment and systems to protect workers’ lives and the environment from potential effects of blowouts and offshore oil spills.