WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Thursday announced new rules requiring that offshore drilling rigs certify they have working blowout preventers and standards for cementing wells.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the new rules will improve safety and reduce the chance of catastrophic blowouts such as the massive BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He said the rules also should improve workplace safety by reducing the risk of human error.
“We are raising the bar for safety, oversight and environmental protection,” Salazar said Thursday in a speech at a Washington think tank. “The oil and gas industry needs to expect a dynamic regulatory environment as we bring the U.S.’s offshore programs up to the gold standard we need to have.”
Under the new rules, operators will be required to comply with tougher requirements for everything from well design and cementing practices to blowout preventers and employee training, Salazar said. They will also need to develop comprehensive plans to manage risks and improve workplace safety, he said.
Salazar has said the new rules must be in place before the Interior Department lifts a ban on deepwater drilling. The ban is set to expire Nov. 30, but officials have said they hope to end it early.