4310-VHDEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement30 CFR Part 250[Docket ID: BSEE-2022-0009; EEEE500000 223E1700D2 ET1SF0000.EAQ000]RIN 1014–AA52Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf-BlowoutPreventer Systems and Well Control RevisionsAGENCY: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Interior.ACTION: Proposed rule.SUMMARY: The Department of the Interior (DOI or Department), through the Bureau ofSafety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), is proposing to revise certain regulatoryprovisions published in the 2019 final well control rule for drilling, workover, completion, anddecommissioning operations. BSEE is proposing these revisions to clarify blowout preventer(BOP) system requirements and to modify certain specific BOP equipment capabilityrequirements. This proposed rule would provide consistency and clarity to industry regardingthe BOP equipment and associated operational requirements necessary for BSEE review andapproval and would further ensure operations are conducted safely and in an environmentallyresponsible manner.DATES: Send your comments on this proposed rule to BSEE on or before [INSERT DATE 60DAYS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER]. BSEE maynot consider or include in the Administrative Record for the final rule comments that we receiveafter the close of the comment period (see DATES) or comments delivered to an address otherthan those listed below (see ADDRESSES).Information Collection Requirements: If you wish to comment on the information collectionrequirements in this proposed rule, please note that the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) is required to make a decision concerning the collection of information contained in thisproposed rule between 30 and 60 days after publication of this proposed rule in the FederalRegister. Therefore, comments should be submitted to OMB by [INSERT DATE 30 DAYSAFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER]. The deadline forcomments on the information collection burden does not affect the deadline for the public tocomment to BSEE on the proposed regulations.ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the rulemaking by any of the followingmethods. Please use the Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) 1014–AA52 as an identifier inyour message. Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the entry entitled, “EnterKeyword or ID,” enter BSEE-2022-0009 then click search. Follow the instructions to submitpublic comments and view supporting and related materials available for this rulemaking. BSEEmay post all submitted comments. Mail or hand-carry comments to BSEE: Attention: Regulations and Standards Branch,45600 Woodland Road, VAE-ORP, Sterling, VA 20166. Please reference RIN 1014-AA52, “Oiland Gas and Sulfur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf-Blowout Preventer Systems andWell Control Revisions,” in your comments, and include your name and return address. Send comments on the information collection in this rule to: Interior Desk Officer 1014–0028, Office of Management and Budget; 202-395-5806 (fax); email:oira [email protected]. Please send a copy to BSEE at [email protected] Availability of Comments: Before including your address, phone number, e-mailaddress, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware thatyour entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publiclyavailable at any time. For BSEE to withhold from disclosure your personal identifyinginformation, you must identify any information contained in your comment submittal that, ifreleased, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of your personal privacy. You must
also briefly describe any possible harmful consequence(s) of the disclosure of information, suchas embarrassment, injury, or other harm. While you may request that we withhold your personalidentifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions, contact Kirk Malstrom,Regulations and Standards Branch, (202) 258-1518, or by email: [email protected] INFORMATION:Executive Summary:This rulemaking would revise certain regulatory provisions that were published in the 2019 finalrule entitled “Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf–BlowoutPreventer Systems and Well Control Revisions,” 84 FR 21908 (May 15, 2019) (2019 WCR). OnJanuary 20, 2021, the President issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13990 (Protecting Public Healthand the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis) and the accompanying“President’s Fact Sheet: List of Agency Actions for Review.” Within the President’s Fact Sheet,DOI was specifically instructed to review the 2019 WCR to evaluate potential revisions topromote and protect public health and the environment, among other identified policy goals.This review confirmed that the 2019 WCR contains many provisions that help ensure thatfederally regulated outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas operations are conducted safelyand in an environmentally responsible manner. Therefore, this proposed rule would address onlyselect provisions that would further promote the President’s policies and environmentalobjectives. At this time, BSEE is proposing a narrowly focused rulemaking to address theidentified regulatory requirements to help improve operations that use a BOP, certain BOPcapabilities and functionalities, and BSEE oversight of such operations. The proposed rulewould: Clarify BOP system requirements,Remove the option for operators to submit failure data to designated third parties,Require accreditation of independent third party qualifications,
Establish dual shear ram requirements for surface BOPs on existing floating productionfacilities when an operator replaces an entire surface BOP stack,Require ROV open functions as originally required in the 2016 WCR, andRequire submittal of certain BOP test results if BSEE is unable to witness the testing.BSEE will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the 2019 WCR and all BSEE regulations fornecessary and appropriate rulemakings in the future.Table of Contents:I. BackgroundA. BSEE Statutory and Regulatory Authority and ResponsibilitiesB. Purpose and Summary of the RulemakingII. Section-by-Section Discussion of Proposed ChangesIII. Procedural ------------------------------------------I. BackgroundA. BSEE Statutory and Regulatory Authority and ResponsibilitiesBSEE’s authority for this rule flows from the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA),43 U.S.C. 1331-1356a. OCSLA, enacted in 1953 and substantially revised in 1978, authorizesthe Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to lease the OCS for mineral development and toregulate oil and gas exploration, development, and production operations on the OCS. TheSecretary has delegated authority to perform certain of these functions to BSEE.To carry out its responsibilities, BSEE regulates offshore oil and gas operations to: enhancethe safety of exploration for and development of oil and gas on the OCS, ensure that thoseoperations protect the environment, and implement advancements in technology. BSEE alsoconducts onsite inspections to assure compliance with regulations, lease terms, and approvedplans and permits. Detailed information concerning BSEE’s regulations and guidance to theoffshore oil and gas industry may be found on BSEE’s website at:https://www.bsee.gov/guidance-and-regulations.
BSEE’s regulatory program covers a wide range of OCS facilities and activities, includingdrilling, completion, workover, production, pipeline, and decommissioning operations. Drilling,completion, workover, and decommissioning operations are types of well operations thatoffshore operators 1 perform throughout the OCS. This rulemaking is applicable to these listedoperational activities that involve certain BOP operations, capabilities, or functionalities.B. Purpose and Summary of the RulemakingAfter the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010, BSEE adopted several recommendations frommultiple investigation teams to improve the safety of offshore operations. Subsequently, BSEEpublished the 2016 Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Final Rule on April 29, 2016(81 FR 25888) (2016 WCR). The 2016 WCR consolidated the equipment and operationalrequirements for well control into one part of BSEE’s regulations; enhanced BOP and welldesign requirements; modified well-control requirements; and incorporated certain industrytechnical standards. Most of the 2016 WCR provisions became effective on July 28, 2016.Although the 2016 WCR addressed a significant number of issues that were identified duringthe analyses of the Deepwater Horizon incident, BSEE recognized that BOP equipment andsystems continue to improve and that well control processes also evolve. Therefore, after the2016 WCR took effect, BSEE continued to engage with the offshore oil and gas industry,Standards Development Organizations (SDOs), and other stakeholders. During theseengagements, BSEE identified issues, and stakeholders expressed a variety of concerns regardingthe implementation of the 2016 WCR. BSEE completed a review of the 2016 WCR and, on May15, 2019, published the 2019 WCR in the Federal Register (84 FR 21908). The 2019 WCR leftmost of the 2016 WCR unchanged.BSEE’s regulations at 30 CFR part 250 generally apply to “a lessee, the owner or holder of operating rights, adesignated operator or agent of the lessee(s)” (30 CFR 250.105 (definition of “you”)” and “the person actuallyperforming the activity to which the requirement applies” (30 CFR 250.146(c)). For convenience, this preamble willrefer to these regulated entities as “operators” unless otherwise indicated.1
Following publication of the 2019 WCR, BSEE continued to engage with stakeholders togather information to ensure an effective implementation of the governing regulatoryrequirements. The Department also identified areas for improvement to specific 2019 WCRprovisions. Furthermore, on January 20, 2021, the President issued E.O. 13990 (ProtectingPublic Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis) and theaccompanying “President’s Fact Sheet: List of Agency Actions for Review.” Within thePresident’s Fact Sheet, DOI was specifically instructed to review the 2019 WCR to evaluatepotential revisions to promote and protect public health and the environment, among otheridentified policy priorities. The Department is proposing a narrowly focused rulemaking toaddress the identified regulatory requirements to help improve operations that use a BOP, certainBOP capabilities and functionalities, and BSEE oversight of such operations.II. Section-by-Section Discussion of Proposed ChangesBSEE is proposing to revise the following regulations:Subpart G—Well Operations and EquipmentWhat are the general requirements for BOP systems and system components? (§ 250.730)Proposed revisions to paragraph (a):BSEE proposes to revise the paragraph (a) by modifying the current requirement that the“BOP system must be capable of closing and sealing the wellbore in the event of flow due to akick, including under anticipated flowing conditions for the specific well conditions,” to arequirement that the “BOP system must be capable of closing and sealing the wellbore at alltimes to the well’s maximum kick tolerance design limits.” Additional minor, non-substantivewording and grammatical changes are proposed for readability to accommodate this proposedrevision. Summary of applicable 2016 WCR provisions:
In the 2016 WCR, BSEE promulgated a revised final version of § 250.730(a) requiring theBOP system to be capable of closing and sealing the wellbore “at all times” under “anticipatedflowing conditions for the specific well conditions.” Summary of applicable 2019 WCR provisions:In the 2019 WCR, BSEE modified these requirements to codify BSEE guidance developed inJuly 2016 based on experience implementing the 2016 WCR. In that posted guidance, BSEEclarified that the language of the 2016 WCR required that “the BOP system . . . be designed toshut-in a well that is flowing due to a kick.” A kick is defined as an influx of formation fluids orgas unexpectedly entering the wellbore. Flow from a kick represents the most critical andchallenging circumstances a BOP must address. Accordingly, BSEE considers the capacity toclose and seal under such conditions to correspond to the capacity to close and seal under anyconditions. Further, other regulations contain requirements to ensure BOP functionality duringnon-kick conditions. For example, the operator must verify the ability of the BOP to functionduring a non-kick event through the regular function and pressure testing required by § 250.737.The operator also is required to obtain independent third party certification that the BOP isdesigned, tested, and maintained to perform under the maximum environmental and operationalconditions anticipated to occur at the well under § 250.731. In modifying the regulatorylanguage in 2019 to more clearly reflect BSEE’s original 2016 intent, BSEE did not view therevisions as weakening or altering the existing requirement that the BOP system must functionduring all operations.Explanation of proposed revisions to paragraph (a):Based on BSEE’s experience with the implementation of these regulations, BSEE isproposing revisions to the general introductory language to provide additional clarity. Since the2019 WCR, BSEE continues to receive questions and requests for clarity on this currentprovision. Therefore, BSEE determined that further clarification is necessary to help reduce anymisconceptions or ambiguity. The proposed revisions would restore language referencing the
BOP system’s capacity to close and seal the wellbore at all times, while clarifying the necessarycontext of that requirement within the well’s maximum kick tolerance design. Kick tolerance isdefined as the maximum volume of gas kick influx that can be safely taken into the well bore andcirculated out of the well without breaking down the surrounding formation. It is used in welldesign to plan the position of the casing shoes and ensures that protecting the formation integrityis an integral part of the well barrier design.The volume of influx can be directly converted to a loss of hydrostatic pressure on the wellprior to shut in. This loss of pressure in the wellbore is a mechanism for well flow. Simplystated, the larger the pressure change the greater the flow rate. The impact of the change inpressure is unique to each well condition, e.g., a well with prolific exposed formations will havea higher flow rate with the same pressure change than a well with a lower permeability. Themethodology for calculating this flow rate follows similar logic to that used in calculating worstcase discharge rates, as well as in well testing and production change estimations.A BOP functions as a mitigation device, designed to backstop other preventionmechanisms to keep a well from progressing to a full blowout; its purpose is not to halt a fullblowout once it has commenced. Operators must ensure ram closure time and sealing integritywithin the operational and mechanical design limits of the well and equipment. The anticipatedflowrate is used to validate that the BOP will function under flowing conditions whilemaintaining well integrity, as clarified in the proposed text. The proposed clarifications toparagraph (a) further support and reflect the totality of the improved BOP equipment,procedures, and testing, while acknowledging the safe and appropriate purpose and function ofthe BOP, to clarify these requirements from the 2016 and 2019 WCRs.Proposed revisions to paragraph (c):BSEE proposes to revise paragraph (c) by removing, throughout the paragraph, the option forsubmission of failure reporting to a designated third party. BSEE also would revise paragraph
(c)(2) to ensure that the operator starts a failure investigation and analysis within 90 days of thefailure instead of within 120 days. Summary of applicable 2016 WCR provisions:The 2016 WCR first established the process for failure analysis and reporting. It requiredthat an investigation and a failure analysis be performed within 120 days of the failure todetermine the cause of the failure. BSEE also required that certain failure reports be sent toBSEE headquarters to ensure that emerging trends occurring across various Districts andRegions are recognized early and that potentially serious issues can be addressed in acoordinated and uniform way nationwide.BSEE also noted in the 2016 WCR, however, that the U.S. Bureau of TransportationStatistics (BTS) had developed (with BSEE’s assistance) a voluntary near-miss reporting systemfor OCS facilities and operations at www.SafeOCS.gov (SafeOCS). As a result of thepublication of the 2016 WCR, BSEE started using the BTS system for collecting informationsimilar to that collected through failure reporting. Summary of applicable 2019 WCR provisions:BSEE reevaluated the timeframes set forth in the 2016 WCR for performing the investigationand the failure analysis and determined that certain operations would not be able to meet theoriginal deadlines. For example, investigations of certain failures cannot be commenced safelyuntil active operations progress to the point where necessary actions – like retrieving a subseaBOP to the surface – can be performed safely. Further, BSEE determined that shiftingimmediately to investigation is not essential when the failure relates to a redundant componentthat does not affect required BOP functionality. BSEE also recognized that many investigationstake a long time and require contracting with specialty engineering firms, who are often locatedoverseas and whose workload may prohibit immediate analysis, as well as transportingcomponents to those firms. Therefore, BSEE revised the timeframes to require that operators
start their investigation and their failure analysis within 120 days of the failure and complete theinvestigation and the failure analysis within 120 days of starting the process.The 2019 WCR also added provisions allowing BSEE to designate a third party to collectfailure data and reports on behalf of BSEE and to require that failure data and reports be sent tothe designated third party. These changes in the 2019 WCR codified BSEE guidance on the2016 WCR posted on the BSEE website at ations/well-control-rule. Based on the 2019 WCR, BSEE currently is workingthrough BTS, using SafeOCS, as the designated third party for receipt of failure reports and data.Reports submitted through SafeOCS are collected and analyzed by BTS and protected fromrelease under the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA),which permits BTS to handle and store reported information confidentially. 2 Informationsubmitted under this statute also is protected from release to other government agencies,Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and certain records requests.Explanation of proposed revisions to paragraph (c):BSEE has continued to evaluate and analyze the data collected by the BTS system and isactively looking for trends in the failure data. BSEE also conducts investigations into certainincidents to verify/monitor BOP component root cause analysis. Upon further evaluation of theuse of a designated third party to collect and analyze failure data and based in part on experiencesince the implementation of the 2019 WCR, this proposed rule would remove the option to sendfailure reports and data to a designated third party. BSEE has found value in using BTS formonitoring failure analysis and trend data. However, such a reporting arrangement limitsBSEE’s ability to efficiently and effectively address all of the issues associated with certainfailures. For example, if BSEE does not become aware of certain failure reports and trend datauntil it receives an annual report from BTS, it limits BSEE’s ability to address failures and trends2OMB identifies BTS as one of 14 CIPSEA statistical agencies; BSEE is not a CIPSEAstatistical agency. “Implementation Guidance for [CIPSEA]”, 72 FR 33362 at 33368 (June 15,2007).
in a timely and meaningful manner. Receiving failure reports directly would facilitate BSEE’stimely review of the failure data to help more quickly identify trends and respond to systematicissues falling within BSEE’s regulatory authority. Reviewing failure reports could also highlightcompanies that have a higher-than-average number of failures, which could be evidence of poormaintenance practices.The proposed revisions to paragraph (c)(2) also would help ensure the operator starts afailure investigation and analysis in a timely manner. Based in part on experience gatheredthrough implementation of the 2019 WCR, BSEE reevaluated the timeframes set forth in the2019 WCR for performing the investigation and the failure analysis. BSEE determined that mostoperators can initiate the failure investigation and analysis more quickly without unnecessarilyinterrupting operations and jeopardizing safety and environmental protection. Accordingly,BSEE proposes to require that operators start the investigation and the failure analysis within 90days of the failure. This proposed revision also would help limit the potential for evidence todissipate over time, e.g., through degradation of equipment or components, accessibility ofcertain records, and availability or memory of personnel.What are the independent third party requirements for BOP systems and systemcomponents? (§ 250.732)Proposed revisions to paragraph (b):BSEE proposes to revise paragraph (b) by adding that an independent third party must beaccredited by a qualified standards development organization and that BSEE may review theindependent third party accreditation and qualifications to ensure that it has sufficient capabilitiesto perform the required functions. Summary of applicable 2016 WCR provisions:BSEE introduced for the first time in the 2016 WCR the concept of using BSEE ApprovedVerification Organizations (BAVOs) to provide certain verifications, certifications, andinspections of BOP systems. BSEE explained that the objective of the use of BAVOs was to
help ensure certain BOP equipment was monitored during its entire lifecycle by an independentthird party to verify compliance with BSEE requirements, original equipment manufacturerrecommendations, and recognized engineering practices. Previously, the independent thirdparties that performed such functions did not undergo a BSEE approval process. BSEEintroduced such a process based on a perception that increased BSEE screening of the thirdparties would provide greater assurances surrounding the performance of these functions. BSEEstated that it would develop, and make available on its public website, a list of BAVOs—consisting of qualified third party organizations that BSEE determined were capable ofperforming the functions specified in the regulations—to help BSEE ensure that BOP systemsare designed and maintained during their service life to minimize risk. BSEE never published alist of BAVOs, however. In the absence of that action, the 2016 WCR required industry tocontinue using qualified independent third parties to perform the identified functions to ensurethat there was no diminution of the safety and environmental protection under the existingregulations. Summary of applicable 2019 WCR provisions:In the 2019 WCR, BSEE removed all references to BAVOs and, where appropriate, replacedthem with references to independent third parties. BSEE based these revisions on informationfrom the Bureau’s increased interactions with independent third parties following publication ofthe 2016 WCR and the successful use of such third parties in lieu of BAVOs in the absence of apublished BAVO list. BSEE expected the majority of BAVOs would be drawn from the existingindependent third parties, who would continue to conduct the same verifications, certifications,and inspections, yielding little actual change in the implementation of the program. BSEE alsoclarified the qualifications for independent third parties (i.e., the third parties must be a technicalclassification society, a licensed professional engineering firm, or a registered professionalengineer capable of performing the required actions), which aligned with the standards BSEEhad anticipated applying to the approval of BAVOs.
Explanation of proposed revisions to paragraph (b):The proposed changes to paragraph (b) would provide an additional layer of assurance thatindependent third parties are capable of providing the required verifications and certificationsand that BSEE may review the independent third party accreditation and qualifications to ensurethat capability. These proposed revisions are derived in part from BSEE’s increased interactionand experience with independent third party certification and verifications since the 2019 WCR,as well as BSEE’s awareness of certain stakeholder concerns about independent third partyqualifications. These revisions also would help increase accountability of independent thirdparties. It is BSEE’s continued goal to ensure that independent third parties are properlyqualified and have proven competencies to perform all required actions.What are the requirements for a surface BOP stack? (§ 250.733)Proposed revisions to paragraph (b)(1):BSEE proposes to revise paragraph (b)(1) by adding that an operator also must follow theBOP requirements of § 250.734(a)(1) when replacing an entire surface BOP stack on an existingfloating production facility. Summary of applicable 2016 WCR provisions:The 2016 WCR added the requirement that surface BOPs installed on a floating productionfacility after 2019 must satisfy the dual shear ram requirements in § 250.734(a)(1). BSEEexpected industry to be moving toward eventual use of dual shear rams in surface BOPs on newfloating production facilities already. However, BSEE explained several practical concernsrelated to applying the dual shear ram requirement to existing facilities. For example, the dualshear ram requirement, if applied to existing floating production facilities, or facilities underconstruction or in advanced stages of development, potentially could have negative personnelsafety and structural impacts due to the added weight of the dual shear ram equipment and due tothe height and structural limits of those facilities. Accordingly, BSEE clarified in the final rulethat existing floating production facilities did not need to retrofit or replace their BOPs to meet
the dual shear ram requirement. In effect, this meant that – under the 2016 WCR – surface BOPson existing floating production facilities, or facilities installed on the OCS before 2019, were notrequired to meet the dual shear ram requirement unless those BOPs were removed or replacedafter 2019.BSEE further explained that these provisions reasonably balanced the practical concernsrelated to requiring dual shear rams on BOPs at existing floating facilities or those to beconstructed in the near term, with the importance of improving the capabilities of surface BOPson such facilities in the longer term. BSEE also explained that existing floating productionfacilities generally are less likely to have an event requiring a dual shear ram BOP (than, e.g.,exploratory drilling rigs), given that the majority of such facilities are located in depleted fields,with lower pressures due to ongoing production from those fields. In addition, there are largeamounts of offset well data for those existing facilities in depleted fields (due to the multiplewells previously drilled into the same geologic formations and reservoirs), which allows forbetter prediction of drilling parameters and concomitant reduced risk of well control losses.Similarly, because of the previous production of the reservoirs at such facilities, the reservoirparameters and characteristics are generally well established. Summary of applicable 2019 WCR provisions:The 2019 WCR revised § 250.733(b)(1) to require that, after April 29, 2021, operators mustfollow the dual shear ram requirements in § 250.734(a)(1) for new floating production facilitiesinstalled with a surface BOP. These revisions were based on comments seeking clarity.Following publication of the 2016 WCR, stakeholders expressed confusion about therequirements in this section that cross-reference the § 250.734 requirements regarding dual shearrams for subsea BOPs, which did not take effect until 2021. BSEE made the compliance datesthe same for §§ 250.733(b)(1) and 250.734(a)(1) (i.e., April 29, 2021) to avoid confusion. It alsomodified this provision to apply only to new floating production facilities (installed after April2021) with a surface BOP. BSEE justified the exemption of existing facilities from these
requirements, even if they are redeployed at another location or the BOP is removed or replaced,for various reasons, including, but not limited to, clearance and weight issues associated withfacility and BOP design limitations.Explanation of proposed revisions to paragraph (b)(1):Since the implementation of the 2019 WCR, BSEE has reviewed all existing surface BOPstacks on floating production facilities and evaluated facility limitations for expanding BOPsystems to include dual shear rams. Dual shear ram BOPs have one blind shear ram that is ableto cut certain equipment in the well (e.g., drill pipe and wireline) and then seal the well, as wellas a shear ram that is also used for cutting similar equipment in the well. BSEE is aware thatcertain existing floating production facilities cannot accommodate additional BOP componentswithout significant facility modifications, which may present challenges due to facility designlimitations. H
(81 FR 25888) (2016 WCR). The 2016 WCR consolidated the equipment and operational requirements for well control into one part of BSEE's regulations; enhanced BOP and well design requirements; modified well-control requirements; and incorporated certain industry technical standards. Most of the 2016 WCR provisions became effective on July 28 .