BATON ROUGE - Today, Governor John Bel Edwards expressed his continuing concern with the offshore well control rule changes by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) set to go into effect in the next few months and the negative impacts they might have on the Louisiana workers and businesses that depend on the offshore industry.
BSEE, the federal agency that provides regulatory oversight on safety and environmental protection for oil and gas exploration in federal offshore waters, provided an update to the state on changes made to the original rule proposal following comments from state stakeholders and industry. BSEE originally proposed the rule changes in Spring of 2015, and informed the state today that the final rule, incorporating some changes based on comments, has been submitted to the Federal Register.
“I certainly appreciate the efforts of BSEE to take steps toward addressing concerns raised by the state and the exploration industry in the original proposed rule change. The leadership of BSEE recognizes that any changes that have significant impact on offshore drilling have subsequent unique impacts on the people of Louisiana, but I still have deep reservations about the potential unintended consequences of these rule changes,” Edwards said. “In Louisiana, we are very familiar with the potential risks associated with offshore drilling and we have not forgotten the lessons learned from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy. However, I believe that an appropriate balance can be reached in meeting the needs of human and environmental safety while still allowing for continued development in the Gulf of Mexico that supports our state’s economy, jobs for our workers, and the fuel security of our nation.”
The federal rule changes, which will become effective within the next few months, deal with issues such as inspection of blowout preventer (BOP) components, BOP design, design verifications, drilling mud specifications, among others.
Edwards said the rules being promulgated by BSEE will add new costs to drilling and production operations in the Gulf of Mexico at a time when low energy prices have already slowed investment and activity.
“Safety in offshore operations is unquestionably paramount, but the new rules are more onerous than necessary and do not appear to provide an increase in safety in proportion to the additional burdens placed on the industry,” Edwards said. “While I understand that this round of rule-making is final, I would hope that the dialogue between BSEE, industry, and stakeholder states such as Louisiana will continue to seek an appropriate balance of regulation that works both for safety and for responsible development.”
In December 2015, Gov. Edwards expressed concern over the proposed rules in a letter to Sally Jewell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. In March, Gov. Edwards expressed similar concerns to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget.