Interior Dept. to strengthen offshore drilling rules

The Department of the Interior last week announced that it will soon issue two new emergency rules as part of a larger effort to improve drilling safety after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April.

The Drilling Safety Rule (.pdf file) lays out requirements for safety equipment, well control systems, and blowout prevention practices on offshore oil and gas operations. Under the Workplace Safety Rule (.pdf file), operators are required to implement programs to identify and address potential hazards and develop strong procedures and risk-reduction strategies for all phases of activity.

The rules were passed under an emergency rulemaking process, but the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement said it will soon move forward with a standard rulemaking process that allows public comment and considers other recommendations from the Secretary of the Interior's previous report (.pdf file) on improving the safety of offshore oil and gas drilling operations.

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