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Legal Blog

5 Years After Deep Horizon Spill Are Oil Rig Workers Truly Safer?

In April, the U.S. Department of the Interior proposed new regulations to strengthen oversight of offshore oil drilling equipment, improve safety measures on oil rigs, and ensure that out-of-control wells can be sealed in the event of an emergency. Now that they are being finalized, these regulations are being heavily debated in the oil industry.

While these regulations are aimed at improving offshore oil drilling safety and adding additional oversight of drilling equipment used to seal a well in an emergency, some argue that the costs to companies to comply will be too high, especially since it is estimated to cost oil companies about $880 million over 10 years to implement. Others claim that these regulations don’t go far enough to protect workers on oil rigs, not to mention the environment.

What’s Being Proposed and Why

The new regulations currently being debated stem from the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The huge impact of this catastrophe has led regulators to search out better safety procedures and regulations for offshore drilling. The main proposal is to better safety equipment that prevents oil and gas from rushing to the surface and triggering a spill or explosion.

This will be done by requiring that blowout preventers in wells have two shear rams to cut through the drill pipe. The redundancy of an additional shear ram will allow the well to be sealed in an emergency even if one fails — a major cause of the Deepwater Horizon spill, also referred to as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that happened five years ago. In addition, all equipment would be subject to an annual review of maintenance and repair records by government-approved safety inspectors who would also be given access to rig monitoring facilities owned by oil companies.

Finally, provisions would give more guidance on well design, casing, cementing, and real-time monitoring between offshore operators and technical experts to ensure that best practice industry standards are actually legislated as mandatory. If put into action, this would require a major overhaul in some industry practices, but could offer a much higher level of protection against future disasters.

How the Houston Offshore Injury Lawyers from The Krist Law Firm, P.C. Can Help You

Hopefully, these regulations will help keep workers on dangerous oil rigs better protected in the future. In the meantime, however, many workers remain at risk. Every day, oil rig and offshore workers find themselves injured at work. If this happens to you, you deserve compensation for your injuries. Call the Houston offshore injury lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. today for a free consultation and learn how our oil and gas work injury lawyers may be able to help you.