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BSEE announces final well control rule

The Department of the Interior announced the final well control rule from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

In the immediate aftermath of the Macondo incident, BSEE adopted several recommendations from multiple investigation teams to improve the safety of offshore energy operations, leading to the publication of the 2016 Well Control Rule. In May 2019, BSEE published a final rule. Today’s final rule incorporates lessons learned from operator experience, incident data regarding blowout preventers (BOPs), and well integrity since the publication of the 2016 rule and revises or rescinds certain modifications that were made in the 2019 rule. 

The department has finalized revisions that will: 

  • Require BOPs to be able to always close and seal the wellbore to the well’s maximum anticipated surface pressure, except as otherwise specified in the BOP system requirement section of the regulations.
  • Require failure data to be reported to both a designated third party and BSEE.
  • Require failure analysis and investigations to start within 90 days of an incident.
  • Require independent third-party qualifications to be submitted to BSEE with the associated permit applications.
  • Specify that surface BOPs on existing floating facilities must follow the dual shear ram requirements when replacing an entire BOP stack.
  • Require that remotely operated vehicles be capable of opening and closing each shear ram on a BOP.
  • Require the operator to provide BOP test results to BSEE within 72 hours after completion of the tests if BSEE is unable to witness testing. 

“This rule strengthens testing and performance requirements for blowout preventers and other well control equipment, provides for timely and robust analyses and investigations into failures, and clarifies reporting requirements to ensure we have appropriate visibility over information and data critical to maintaining well integrity” said BSEE Director Kevin Sligh.

The proposed rule was announced on 12 September 2022, starting a 60-day public comment period. BSEE evaluated all public comments received during the public comment period and developed the final rule based on that evaluation.

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