BP overhauls Gulf of Mexico drilling standards

BP has committed to a new set of voluntary standards for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico as it seeks to repair its battered reputation following the devastating spill last year.

The new safety standards include insisting all its contractors use better blowout preventer systems, which work to prevent uncontrolled releases of oil and gas from wells – and demand better testing and maintenance on its rigs and processes.

BP added that it had developed an oil spill response plan setting out how to react to another spill in future.

But all the measures focused on its contractors rather than addressing the shortcomings in its own internal procedures which were highlighted in US government investigations.

BP said the new standards went beyond what regulators currently demand. Its chief executive Bob Dudley said they would “promote greater levels of safety and preparedness in deep water drilling.”

The standard specify that its contractors only use blow-out preventers with twin sets of shears which could slice through drill pipes, and that it would have third parties verify the testing of the devices.

BP will also require lab testing of the cement mixtures its outside cementing contractors recommend for lining and sealing off oil wells, and provide the results to the offshore safety regulator.

It released the news via a letter to the director of the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, Michael Bromwich.