Interior plans new rules on subsea ‘blowout preventers’

Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes said officials are working with the department’s recently established Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee. The department intends to offer a so-called advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in coming months that will solicit input on what sorts of upgrades are needed, he said on the call.

Officials are examining potential requirements for new blowout preventers and existing devices in use on ocean rigs.

The recent forensic report recommended that the industry review a range of issues — such as the blade surfaces of shear rams — that should be addressed in the design of future blowout preventers and the need for modifying existing devices.

The March report (available here) was commissioned as part of an ongoing joint Interior-U.S. Coast Guard probe of the BP spill.

Interior has already issued a series of new offshore safety requirements as a result of last year's spill, covering issues including well design and the ability to swiftly contain spills from deepwater wells.