New Regulations Focus on Offshore Electrical Safety
The United States Coast Guard recently issued new rules that focus on offshore electrical safety. The new regulations expand the list of international explosion protection standards that must be met for offshore drilling sites.
Most notably, all electrical equipment must now meet certification standards of either National Regulations or the International Electrotechnical Commission Systems for Certification to Standards relating to Equipment for use in Explosive Atmospheres (IECEx). The new standards apply to all newly constructed offshore facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
The regulations were implemented in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in 2010. Investigations into the cause of the explosion uncovered that poor maintenance of electrical systems and numerous system deficiencies may have contributed to the catastrophe. Those investigations also highlighted the importance of installing proper electrical equipment in dangerous locations of the oil rig.
New Regulations Expand On Existing Standards
The new regulations merely update existing regulations that were already in place at the time of the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Coast Guard officials stated that the old regulations needed updating because they did not account for certain aspects of hydrocarbon productions, processing, and storage systems.
Under the new regulations, mobile offshore drilling platforms and other floating facilities will be held to the same safety standards as fixed units drilling in the OCS. The rule is intended to ensure that all platforms and vessels are meeting the same safety standards.