The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is close to announcing new plans for ensuring that offshore oil and gas producers meet their financial liabilities when it comes to disposing of old rigs, according to Reuters.
BOEM, which falls within the Department of Interior, was founded in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster of 2010. Its purpose is to regulate environmental aspects of the offshore production industry.
The aim of its new stricter bonding rules will be to get extra guarantees of capital from oil companies to make them meet their legal obligations for plugging wells and the dismantling and clean-up of rigs in the Outer Continental Shelf.
BOEM has been motivated to tighten the rules because of concerns that the slump in oil prices in recent years could lead to producers washing their hands of their decommissioning duties.
Under previous rules there was generous scope for firms to claim exemption from such costs.
The Deepwater Horizon was an offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, owned by Transocean and leased to BP. On April 20, 2010 it exploded with the loss of 11 lives and was followed by nearly three months of oil flow from the ocean floor before the well could be capped. It is the worst offshore oil disaster in US history.