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Energy & Environment

Regulators Reviewing Drilling Rig Safety Rules

The oil and gas industry is recommending revisions to an oil rig safety rule put in place after the Deepwater Horizon disaster


Anchor-handling tugboats battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon.

A man from Katy, Texas is still unaccounted for after an oil rig explosion in Louisiana. The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for Timothy Morrison on Monday.

The incident comes amid a broader re-thinking of drilling rig safety rules. The explosion happened in Louisiana waters, and the platform wasn’t subject to federal regulations.

Still, being on any rig is inherently dangerous. We know that from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and regulators are rethinking rules designed to keep that scale of an explosion from happening again.

"The ultimate goal is to identify ways to remove or reduce some of the burden on the industry,” said Greg Julian, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which is handling the review.

At a September forum in Houston, the Bureau heard recommendations from oil and gas companies. The American Petroleum Institute has a 50-page list of parts of the rule it wants deleted or changed. Companies say it costs time and money, and the administrative burdens distract from a focus on safety.

Alexandra Adams, with the Natural Resources Defense Council, doesn't agree.

"This review is just simply bad policy and puts workers, and our resources, at risk,” she said.

There's still no timeline on when the Bureau's review will be completed.