Legge Farrow Urges Offshore Energy Industry to Speak Up Aggressively on Proposed BSEE Rules
The agency, created in the wake of the 2010 Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, recently published its proposed update for Oil and Gas Production Safety Systems in the Federal Register. The comment period is open until Oct. 21.
“That doesn’t leave much time,” says firm partner Glenn Legge. “The proposed rules contain some important changes that may significantly impact some contractors and operators, so it is imperative that the industry makes its voices heard before the rules are set in stone.”
One of the chief goals of the revision is to update regulations in light of new technologies. Some of the more significant proposed technical changes include:
• Professional engineer certification of designs for the mechanical and electrical systems for production safety equipment.
• Increased scrutiny of “as-built” piping and instrumentation diagrams, including requirements that these be certified and stamped by an engineer.
• New requirements for the valve systems known as subsea or dry “trees” that control the flow of hydrocarbons.
The proposed rules also empower BSEE to decide which best available safety technology is economically feasible. An operator may seek an exception, but that places the burden on the operator to prove the best technology may not be practical on an existing operation. This could be especially challenging for smaller operators, Mr. Legge says.
The proposed revision also removes "an important safe harbor provision" in the current regulations that allowed operators some level of confidence that their compliance with the more detailed regulations satisfied their obligation to use the best available and safest technology. The proposed rule now specifically recognizes that an operator’s compliance with regulations may still expose an operator to BSEE penalties.
Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown L.L.P. is an AV-rated civil litigation firm that represents domestic and foreign companies in federal and state courts. The firm's office is located in Houston and its attorneys are licensed to practice in Texas, Louisiana, New York and California, as well as various federal district and appellate courts in the U.S. The firm provides services to businesses involved in the energy, marine, insurance, construction and technology industries.
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