Interior Issues Directive to Guide Implementation of Stronger Safety Requirements for Offshore Drilling

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Date: June 8, 2010


Interior Issues Directive to Guide Implementation of Stronger
Safety Requirements for Offshore Drilling

Deepwater Drilling Moratorium Remains in Place, Shallow Wat
er Drilling May
Continue in Compliance with Stronger Safety Requirements


WASHINGTON, DC


The Department of the Interior today issued a directive to oil and gas
lessees and operators on the Outer Continental Shelf implementing stronger safety requirements

that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recommended in his
30
-
day safety report to the
President
.


The
Notice to Lessees focusing on safety measures

(“Safety NTL”) issued today applies to both
deepwater and shallow water operations, although drilling operations in water deeper than 500
feet remain un
der
a six
-
month moratorium.

Shallow water drilling operations and production
activity in both deep and shallow wat
ers are not under a moratorium and will continue, provided
they are in compliance with the new safety requirements.


“Oil and gas from the Outer Continental Shelf remains an important component of our energy
security as we transition to the clean energy ec
onomy, but we must ensure that offshore drilling
is conducted safely and in compliance with the law,” said Secretary Salazar.


“The deepwater
drilling moratorium that is in place will provide time for the Presidential Commission to
complete its work, but p
roduction and shallow water drilling may continue under the stronger
safety requirements that we are implementing today.”


The Safety NTL issued today implements the seven safety requirements that Secretary Salazar’s
30 day safety report to the President d
etermined could be implemented immediately.


Under the
NTL, lessees and operators are required to:




Show certification by the operator’s Chief Executive Officer that they are conducting
their operations in compliance with all operating regulations and that

they have tested
their drilling equipment, ensured that personnel are properly trained, and reviewed their
procedures to ensure the safety of personnel and protection of the environment;




Provide certification from a Professional Engineer


before beginn
ing any new drilling
operations using either a surface or subsea blowout preventer (BOP) stack


of all well
casing and cement design requirements, including that there are at least two independent
tested barriers for the well, and adhere to new casing ins
tallation procedures;




Provide independent third
-
party verification, before drilling any new well, that the BOP
will operate properly with the drilling rig equipment and is compatible with the specific
well location, borehole design and drilling plan;




Pro
vide independent third
-
party verification that shows that the blind
-
shear rams installed
on the surface or subsea BOP stack are capable of shearing the drill pipe in the hole under
maximum anticipated surface pressures;




Adhere to new inspection and report
ing requirements for BOP and well control system
configuration, BOP and well control test results, BOP and loss of well control events, and
BOP and loss of well control system downtime;




Receive independent third
-
party verification, before spudding a new w
ell, of re
-
certification of BOP equipment used on all floating drilling rigs to ensure that the devices
will operate as originally designed, and that any modifications or upgrades conducted
after delivery have not compromised the design or operation of the

BOP;




Have a secondary control system for subsea BOP stacks with remote operated vehicle
(ROV) intervention capabilities, including the ability to close one set of blind
-
shear rams
and one set of pipe rams.


The subsea BOP system must have an emergency sh
ut
-
in
system in the event of lost power, as well as a deadman system and an autoshear system;






Conduct ROV Hot Stab Function Testing of the ROV Intervention Panel on subsurface
BOP stacks; and




Provide documentation that the BOP has been maintained acco
rding to the regulations.


Drilling operations that are not subject to the deepwater drilling moratorium must fulfill their
BOP reporting requirements by June 17 and submit the required safety certifications by June 28.


Failure to provide required certifi
cations will result in the issuance of an incident of non
-
compliance and may result in a shut
-
in order.


In the coming days, the Department of the Interior will be also be issuing expanded requirements
for exploration plans and development plans on the Out
er Continental Shelf, said Bob Abbey,
who is the Director of the Bureau of Land Management and who
has also been
called upon to
serve as Director of the Minerals Management Service
.


The Department of the Interior and the
Council on Environmental Quality are also conducting
a review of MMS’ procedures under the
National Environmental Policy Act.




“We are following an orderly, responsible process for implementing stronger sa
fety and
environmental requirements of offshore drilling,” said Abbey.


“We need to make sure that
drilling is done right, that it is done safely, and that oil and gas operators are following the law.”


To view the NTL issued today,
click here.