The U.S. Department of the Interior has published final new drilling rules for oil and gas in the U.S. Arctic Outer Continental Shelf. These Arctic-specific regulations focus solely on OCS exploratory drilling operations from floating vessels within the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
Among other requirements, the new rules require “operators to develop an Integrated Operations Plan addressing all phases of a proposed Arctic OCS exploration program and submit it to BOEM in advance of filing an Exploration Plan. The regulations require companies to have access to – and the ability to promptly deploy – source control and containment equipment, such as capping stacks and containment domes, while drilling below or working below the surface casing.
Operators also must have access to a separate relief rig able to drill a timely relief well under the conditions expected at the site in the event of a loss of well control; have the capability to predict, track, report, and respond to ice conditions and adverse weather events; effectively manage and oversee contractors; and develop and implement an Oil Spill Response Plan designed and executed in a manner that accounts for the unique Arctic OCS operating environment, and is supported with the necessary equipment, training, and personnel for oil spill response on the Arctic OCS.”
The new regulations are available here.