Final Drilling Safety Rule Requires Extensive PE Oversight

NSPE achieved a victory when the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued a final rule that makes permanent the additional safety measures authorized in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill. The rule requires professional engineers to be more involved in the design and certification of offshore oil wells. NSPE General Counsel Arthur Schwartz commented before the Chemical Safety Board in 2010 that professional engineers should supervise all engineering design, operations, and maintenance of offshore oil wells. Specifically, the new rule stipulates that:

  • PEs must be involved in the well casing and cementing design process;
  • PEs must certify that well casings and cementing are appropriate for expected wellbore conditions;
  • PEs must certify well abandonment designs and procedures; and
  • PEs must certify that well designs include two independent barriers in the center wellbore and all annuli.

The rule also requires independent third parties to conduct blowout preventer inspections. These third parties must be licensed professional engineers, professional engineering firms, or technical classification societies.

Workbench Section: 
Date: 
Wednesday, August 15, 2012