The chief of a key US government agency said on Wednesday that proposed new rules on deepwater drilling safety have been tweaked a little to placate concerns from oil industry players.
Brian Salerno, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which comes under the Department of the Interior, told the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources that adjustments had been made to the wording of the rule.
He also emphasized that the BSEE had always been reasonable, working in partnership with rig operators to ensure safety.
BSEE came into existence directly because of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which has been largely blamed on a faulty blowout preventer.
Oil industry representatives had expressed worry about the so-called well control rule and particularly part of it specifying the pressure levels that wells must employ during drilling.
They fear the new rules would increase costs so much that it would force companies to cut back drastically on their exploration and production activities.
One industry-backed survey said that well activity would drop by more than half because of the proposed rules. Salerno disputed that analysis.