Five Years on, BP Oil Spill Prompts New Drilling Rule

Five Years on, BP Oil Spill Prompts New Drilling RuleFive Years on, BP Oil Spill Prompts New Drilling Rule

The United States is planning to impose a major new regulation on offshore oil and gas drilling to try to prevent the kind of explosions that caused the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Reuters reported.

The possible announcement of the new regulation on April 13 is timed to coincide with the five-year anniversary of the BP disaster, which killed 11 men and sent millions of barrels of oil spewing into the gulf.

The rule is expected to tighten safety requirements on blowout preventers, devices that are the last line of protection to stop explosions in undersea oil and gas wells, the Times reported.

However, environmentalists remain unconvinced that an event like the Deepwater Horizon explosion can be avoided again, according to the International Business Times.

“Making sure the design, operation and maintenance of the blowout preventer is the best it can possibly be is imperative, no question,” said Bob Deans, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council and co-author of the book “In Deep Water,” an investigation of the cause of the spill.

“Industry and government have taken measures over the past five years to reduce some of the risk in what is an inherently dangerous operation at sea.

That’s a far cry from saying it’s safe. And the last thing we need is to expose Atlantic or Arctic waters to a BP-style blowout.”

The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in 2010 was caused in part when the buckling of a section of drill pipe led to the malfunction of a supposedly fail-safe blowout preventer on a BP well, the paper said.

The regulation comes as the Obama administration is taking steps to open up vast new areas of federal waters off the southeast Atlantic Coast to drilling, a decision that has infuriated environmentalists, the Times reported.

It will be the third and biggest new drilling-equipment regulation put forth by the Obama administration in response to the disaster, the Times said. In 2010, the Interior Department announced new regulations on drilling well casings, and in 2012, it announced new regulations on the cementing of wells.