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Offshore Oil, Gas Safety Rules Loosened

PORT FOURCHON, La. — Changes to give more flexibility to oil and gas companies in meeting safety requirements put in place after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion were announced Thursday at this hub for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Associated Press reports. The revised rules govern safety standards at offshore wells.

Eleven people died when BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt in a statement said that “the rule eliminates unnecessary regulatory burdens while maintaining safety and environmental protection offshore.”

The final revised rule leaves 274 out of 342, or around 80%, of the original Well Control Rule provisions, according to a news release from the Department of Interior, with 68 provisions identified as appropriate for revision and 33 provisions added. Per the direction of Executive Order 13795 and Secretary’s Order 3350, the final rule addresses offshore oil and gas drilling, completions, workovers and decommissioning activities.

The rules revision announcement comes as the Trump Administration has been attempting to expand drilling off the U.S. coast, though that effort has been delayed by opposition, including from Democratic and Republican governors and lawmakers, and court challenges including last month’s ruling that restored Obama-era restrictions and stated that Trump exceeded his authority when he reversed bans on offshore drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

BSEE published May 11, 2018, the proposed revisions to the Well Control Rule. A 60-day public comment period was held, which was later extended to 87 days. During the open comment period, BSEE received over 118,000 comments on the proposed rule.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.