Earth & Conservation

New Rules Issued to Prevent Offshore Drilling Disasters

The measures would prevent explosions like the one that caused the BP oil spill in Louisiana almost six years ago.

<p>Photo: U.S. Coast Guard // Wikimedia</p>

The Obama administration is set to implement major new regulations on companies that conduct offshore drilling in the U.S., a move designed to prevent disasters like the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting BP oil spill.

According to Bloomberg, the rules will stipulate certain requirements for the wells and emergency equipment used by companies in the oil industry. Drilling companies have been fighting against the new regulations, saying it will be extremely expensive to follow them.

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Companies like Chevron and Exxon Mobil have lobbied against the measures, citing the costs they will bring. They say it could cost them tens of millions of dollars and potentially lower the overall crude oil production in the region, which accounts for about 17 percent of total U.S. output.

The measures are being overseen by the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The department estimated the cost of the program at around $1 billion over 10 years and said it was absolutely crucial to enforcing better safety measures.

Those would build off of other reforms put into place by the Obama administration following the explosion at BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

The announcement comes nearly six years after that accident killed 11 workers and sent crude oil spewing into the ocean for months. Last year, BP agreed to pay $18.7 billion to settle legal cases brought by the federal government, as well as individual states.

Top photo: Vessels equipped with water cannons try to fight the devastating Deepwater Horizon fire. (U.S. Coast Guard / Wikimedia)