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U.S. proposes offshore safety overhaul

Aug. 22, 2013 at 7:30 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- A U.S. offshore energy regulator said it was proposing new rules to address oil and natural gas operations with technological advancements in mind.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement deposited a proposal Thursday in the Federal Register for regulating production from the Outer Continental Shelf.

The regulator's 149-page proposal said it aims to address safety and pollution prevention.

"The changes in this proposed rule are necessary to bolster human safety, environmental protection and regulatory oversight of critical equipment involving production safety systems," the proposal's summary states.

U.S. courts are assessing blame for the 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which left 11 workers dead and resulted in one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the energy industry. Though no major environmental damage or injuries were reported, part of a drilling rig collapsed after a natural gas leak detonated off the coast of Louisiana last month.

The BSEE said the proposal aims to reduce the number of incidents leading to offshore oil spills, injuries and fatalities.

"The commonsense changes we are proposing, which will address issues such as production safety systems, subsurface safety devices and safety device testing, will help regulations keep pace with changing technologies that have enabled the industry to explore and develop resources in deeper water," BSEE Director James Watson said in a statement.

Regulations in question haven't been overhauled since the 1980s.

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