Updated Oil and Gas Safety Rule Emphasizes Critical Role of PEs

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

In another significant victory for professional engineers, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement increased the role of professional engineers in an updated oil and natural gas production safety final rulemaking. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued a final rule updating the regulations regarding oil and natural gas production safety on the Outer Continental Shelf by addressing issues such as safety and pollution prevention equipment design and maintenance, production safety systems, subsurface safety devices, and safety device testing. The changes in this rule are necessary to improve human safety, environmental protection, and regulatory oversight of critical equipment involving production safety systems. Of particular importance were changes to the approval of safety systems design and installation features. Before installing or modifying a production safety system, a production safety system application must be submitted to the district manager for approval. Under the new rule, the as-built diagrams must be approved and sealed by a licensed professional engineer. This new rule aims to keep pace with advancing technologies to ensure worker safety and protection of the environment. The licensed professional engineer plays a critical role in this effort, and NSPE commends the Department of the Interior for recognizing that role in the final rule.