Chemical safety board scraps recommendation on offshore safety

By Jordan Blum  houstonchronicle.com  Updated: November 17, 2017 8:31am

Offshore oil rig workers will remain without broad whistleblower protections after a federal agency this week opted to withdraw recommendations made in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board opted to pull its worker participation and whistleblower protection recommendations after the federal agency that regulates offshore drilling, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, refused to enact the protections. Under President Donald Trump, the bureau has shifted its focus to reducing what it calls unnecessary regulations.

Link to full article:  http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Chemical-sa...

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WOW!  What happened to common sense?  I'm all for elimination of worthless or terrible regulations.  But I'm not for getting rid of  whistleblower protections.  Many safety regs are good for all of us... first the workers... and then the oil/gas economy.  And I'm a big conservative!

This is not good.  You just have to watch the movie "Deepwater Horizon" to get a glimpse of how dangerous this work is and how much pressure these people are under to get a well drilled.

Everyone, including conservatives, should be telling their U.S. legislators that wholesale elimination of regulations is a wrong headed approach.  I think most everyone, regardless of their political beliefs, can agree that regulations should be reviewed and evaluated.  Any ham handed approach such as eliminate two old regs for every one new reg invites this kind of outcome.  The current trend of appointing individuals to federal departments with oversight of such issues who oppose the traditional operation of those departments and/or come from industries regulated by those departments is a recipe for disaster.  Not to mention that it is a slap in the face, in this particular example, to the families of those who have died in dangerous occupations such as the Deepwater Horizon.  That movie moved me also, Kathy.  And, you're right JHH, this should be driven by common sense, not some misguided attempt to deregulate whistleblower protections or dismantle wholesale a previous administrations priorities.

US considers weakening offshore safety rules to promote more drilling

Houston (Platts)--14 Dec 2017 621 pm EST/2321 GMT

The Trump administration is considering easing offshore oil and natural gas safety regulations, including eliminating certain requirements for Arctic drilling put in place by the Obama administration, and cutting testing requirements for rules developed in response to BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster, an Interior Department document showed Thursday.

In addition, the administration is considering giving operators access to Arctic waters for longer periods than currently allowed, a rule change regulators claim could boost interest in exploration.

Details of the administration's plans of offshore rules were outlined in the Interior Department's latest statement of regulatory priorities, which was released Thursday.

That plan calls for Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to rollback or weaken offshore safety regulations put in place by the Obama administration in order to promote additional oil and natural gas drilling in federal waters.

"BSEE is reviewing existing regulations to determine whether they may potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, constrain economic growth, or prevent job creation," the plan states. "BSEE is well-positioned to help maintain the nation's position as a global energy leader and foster energy security and resilience for the benefit of the American people, while ensuring that any such activity is performed in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner."

According to the plan, BSEE is considering significant changes to a well control and blowout prevention system rule which Obama's Interior Department finalized in April 2016. That rule, developed in response to BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster, took years to develop and was revised multiple times. Industry groups have criticized elements of the rule, including frequent testing of the blowout preventers and standardized safe drilling margins, arguing they will increase costs for offshore operators.

According to Thursday's plan, BSEE is considering changing some of the most criticized provisions in the rule, including: extending pressure testing of blowout preventer systems from every two weeks to three weeks in "appropriate situations," revising a requirement to shut in platforms when a lift boat approached within 500 feet and potentially repealing a requirement to submit test results to BSEE within 72 hours.

In addition, BSEE is also considering substantial changes to Obama-era regulations for drilling in US Arctic waters. The Arctic rule, finalized by BSEE and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in July 2016, include oil spill prevention, containment and response and operational standards in the Arctic, and new requirement mandating access to source control and containment equipment, such as capping stacks and containment domes while drilling, and access to a separate relief rig able to drill relief wells in the event of a loss of well control. The relief-rig rule, which was included in the originally proposed regulations, was criticized by industry as costly and unnecessary.

In its plan released Thursday, BSEE said it is considering eliminating the requirement for a cap and flow system and containment dome that are capable of being located at a well site within seven days of loss of well control. In addition,

"BOEM and BSEE are also exploring joint options that would allow greater flexibility for operators to continue to drill later into the Arctic drilling season," the agency said in its plan. "If they are successful in implementing this strategy, exploration of the Nation's Arctic oil and gas reserves will increase while providing appropriate safety and environmental protection."

At a White House event Thursday, Trump highlighted his administration "deregulatory" agenda and efforts to cut federal regulations.

Instead of setting my hair on fire... I chose to go read the recommendations myself. Here's the summary from CSB.gov. I suggest that you read it. It is only two pages.

Good to hear your hair is intact.  The link is non-functional.

Sorry about that. I'll try something different. The link was to the pdf summary and it didn't work... twice. So, now try going to the page for Recent Recommendations: http://www.csb.gov/recommendations/recently-updated/ then scroll down to the second one:

2010-10-I-OS-15 where there are three paragraphs. Under that is a link to the pdf.

I still get an error message and that message does contain a link but that link only goes to the CSB home page and not to the specific recommendations.

I edited with a different link. Refresh the page.

Is this the correct page? And is it the Macondo Well listing to which you're referring?

Recent Recommendation Status Updates

Each recommendation the CSB issues is monitored by CSB staff from the time it is issued to closing. CSB staff evaluate recipient responses, and the Board votes to assign status designations to recommendations based on staff evaluation. This page highlights recommendations for which the Board has recently voted to change the status of the recommendation. For more information on how the CSB defines its recommendation statuses, please visit the Recommendations Frequently Asked Questions page.

Yes, click on the down arrow under Macando... next to U.S. Department of Interior (2 recommendations). The second rec. deals with whistleblower protections. There is a pdf link under those four paragraphs for the complete summary.

Although Alaskans can drill offshore if they want to, I don't think it's a particularly good idea after seeing the after effects of the Macondo well disaster.  I am mostly concerned about the following changes mentioned in the article especially the BOP/Well Control.  I didn't see them addressed in the recommendations.

According to the plan, BSEE is considering significant changes to a well control and blowout prevention system rule which Obama's Interior Department finalized in April 2016. That rule, developed in response to BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster, took years to develop and was revised multiple times. Industry groups have criticized elements of the rule, including frequent testing of the blowout preventers and standardized safe drilling margins, arguing they will increase costs for offshore operators.

According to Thursday's plan, BSEE is considering changing some of the most criticized provisions in the rule, including: extending pressure testing of blowout preventer systems from every two weeks to three weeks in "appropriate situations," revising a requirement to shut in platforms when a lift boat approached within 500 feet and potentially repealing a requirement to submit test results to BSEE within 72 hours.

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