Today, the Interior Department imposed new emergency regulations (bypassing normal Administrative Procedure Act notice and comment requirements) on offshore oil drilling that should help prevent another Deepwater Horizon-style disaster. Among the most important of the new provisions requires the installation of blow-out prevention stacks with remotely operated vehicle intervention capacity. Should automatic blow-out prevention systems fail, the remotely operated vehicle could be used to quickly shut down the well. The vehicle and a crew trained to use it must be continually present at the well site.
Industry not surprisingly opposes the new regulations, which will undoubtedly increase the cost of offshore oil recovery. But those added costs should be minor compared to the costs of another Deepwater Horizon-style spill.
A fact sheet on the new rule is available here.