Energy & Environment

Obama to issue new offshore drilling rule

President Obama is planning Thursday to roll out the final version of the most significant changes to offshore oil and gas drilling safety standards since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

A person familiar with the process confirmed that the rule is expected Thursday, just under a week before the sixth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers and led to an 87-day spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history.

{mosads}The rule is coming from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, a component of the Interior Department. Bloomberg Politics first reported the timing.

As proposed a year ago, the rule would set new standards for the blowout preventer, a key piece of safety equipment meant to stop major spills after well blowouts. It would also set new standards for operating the safety equipment and for documenting the operations.

“Through this proposed rule, we’re requiring more stringent design requirements and stricter operational procedures for critical equipment used in offshore energy development,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in announcing the proposal last year.

“We owe it to the American people to ensure we’re developing these resources responsibly and safely,” she said.

The oil industry has endorsed parts of the proposal, but said major provisions are unnecessary or would in fact compromise safety.

A report commissioned by the industry and completed by Wood Mackenzie earlier this year predicted that up to 190,000 jobs would be at risk due to the rule by 2030 — 80 percent of them in Louisiana and Texas.

It said exploratory drilling would drop by up to 55 percent under the rule, a oil and gas production from the Gulf of Mexico would fall by as much as 35 percent a year by 2030.

Tags Deepwater Horizon disaster Natural gas Offshore drilling oil Sally Jewell

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