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Offshore Drilling Workers Are In Danger! Changes Occurring to Offshore Drilling Regulations


Posted in News and Events on April 13, 2018


Even with safety guidelines in place, working in offshore oil drilling is a dangerous occupation. With the goal of America achieving “energy dominance,” the current White House administration has made a few bold moves in repealing some of its predecessor’s efforts to make offshore drilling safer. Employees of offshore oil operations already report some of the highest rates of injuries and deaths of any occupation.

Our experienced and aggressive Houston maritime lawyers at Lapeze & Johns stay informed in order to deliver the best possible services and legal guidance to their clients. With over $385 million recovered for their clients, it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about maritime law and regulation changes.

They also believe it is their duty to keep clients informed and protected. Please consider the following information regarding changes being made to offshore drilling regulations. Also, if you or loved one was injured – or met their untimely death – while working in offshore drilling, you do not have to fight the oil company alone. Contact Lapeze & Johns for a free case review today.

Safety Regulations as a Result of the Deep Horizon Oil Spill

As a result of the Deep Horizon oil spill in 2010, a new and powerful federal agency called the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) was created in October of 2011. This agency was created to separate the safety regulations of offshore drilling from the activities of other agencies, such as those overseeing leaseholds and revenue generation.

Since its creation, the BSEE has put regulations in place to promote safety in offshore drilling on the outer continental shelf and prevent another disaster like the Deep Horizon oil spill. The Deep Horizon spill was the largest offshore oil disaster in United States history, with 200 million gallons of oil being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. As a result of the accident, 11 workers died, many more were injured, thousands of dolphins and other sea animals were killed, and hundreds of clean-up workers and Gulf Coast residents were exposed to toxic chemicals. This disaster prompted the shutdown of all deep-water drilling in the Gulf for six months.

Changes Coming to Offshore Drilling Safety Regulations

In late December of 2017, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) submitted new regulations for offshore drilling operations. Much of what the regulatory rollback is set to do is minimize previous regulations that were put into place as an effort to increase safety for offshore drilling operations and prevent future oil spills and employee deaths. The goal in rolling back regulations is to cut costs and increase production for oil companies.

The new regulations will eliminate a requirement that equipment be inspected by auditors certified by the BSEE to make sure it meets safety and pollution standards. Instead, the regulations will revert back to previous measurements set before the Deep Horizon oil spill, whereby the oil companies will use industry-set recommended standards.

The issue here is that these are recommendations and not requirements. This means that companies will be operating with no real oversight, and they may use equipment that is not safe or polluting beyond allowable standards. The new regulations also change compliance terms with language that favors drillers. In many instances, the word “should” will replace the word “must” in the regulations. Once again, this gives the companies the option, not the requirement, to meet certain safety and environmental standards.

While the new regulations were aimed at cutting costs for oil companies, opponents of the regulations, and those afraid that minimizing regulations will have a disastrous effect, say that another catastrophic oil spill will ultimately cost more. Taking into account clean-up costs and the ongoing harm to the environment and coastal communities that have to live in areas where these spills occur, another large oil spill will undoubtedly be very pricey.

Another argument that proponents of the new regulations cite for supporting the rollback is that it will help ramp up production and drive America towards the goal of “energy dominance.” However, critics say that the new regulations are unnecessary to meet this goal because production from offshore drilling in 2018 is already set to yield more oil than ever.

Furthermore, critics of the regulatory rollback argue that it may actually hurt the offshore drilling industry because, as large operations, they cannot adapt to regulatory divergences quickly or cost-effectively with each administration change. Another concern for many is that early in 2018, the current White House administration proposed opening up all (or nearly all) offshore waters to drilling and ending a ban on new offshore drilling that the Obama administration had put into place.

Although it is yet to be determined what effect the rollback of offshore drilling regulations will have on the safety of workers, it is undeniable that even in the best circumstances, working on an offshore drilling rig is a dangerous job.

Depend on the Houston maritime and offshore drilling injury attorneys at Lapeze & Johns when tragedy strikes.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed as the result of working in offshore oil drilling, trust the Gulf Coast maritime lawyers at Lapeze & Johns. They will fight aggressively for victims of offshore drilling accidents.

At Lapeze & Johns, you are not just a case number; you are a person. With over 30 years of combined experience, the attorneys at Lapeze & Johns know how to get results. Do not try to fight a big oil company alone; let them help you. Contact Lapeze & Johns for a free case review by calling (713) 739-1010 today.