IADC has issued a criticism of the Interim Policy Document issued last week by the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). By affirming that BSEE inspectors can issue Incidents of Noncompliance to drilling contractors as well as oil companies, the policy demonstrates a deviation from the global paradigm of holding operators ultimately responsible for accidents at the well site, according to IADC.
“BSEE’s guidance is inconsistent with the industry model and creates a whole new area of ambiguity,” said Brian Petty, IADC executive vice president – government affairs. “Global government regimes have always held operators responsible. This new guidance opens the door to unknown levels of liability for contractors and additional uncertainty for contractors. At a minimum it could increase contractors’ insurance premiums, but it also could potentially eliminate coverage for many companies in the US altogether.
IADC is concerned that these additional costs and risk exposure, combined with the possibility for civil penalties and fines, could drive drilling contractors out of the US Gulf of Mexico, where experienced and high-quality drilling contractors are desperately needed. “Drilling activity is strong around the world, with significant rig demand in areas like Brazil, West Africa and Asia Pacific. Drilling contractors could well decide to leave the Gulf for places where they won’t have to bear the same risks,” Mr Petty said.