Oil & Gas Drillers Oppose Push For New Regulations

People working in the oil industry are involved in a dangerous business. When accidents occur, these workers can be seriously hurt or even killed. If a petrochemical plant accident has affected your life, it may be time for you to consider filing a lawsuit. Specifically, if your employer is not paying you the monetary compensation that you are entitled to receive, then an industrial accident attorney will be necessary. This will also be the case if there has been wrongful death in industrial accident fatalities. The Increase in Oil Production The oil and gas industry has suffered great losses in recent years. The year 2012 was particularly difficult because deaths due to industrial accidents reached a 10-year high. Over the years, there has been a surge in drilling. Because of this, people are concerned that even more workers are going to be at risk as production increases. The Chemical Safety Board and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are two agencies that want to reduce the risks that industrial workers take every day that they show up at their jobs. Officials with these agencies believe that strengthening safety regulations is the right thing to do in this situation. In opposition is the oil and gas industry. According to companies and trade groups in this arena, current rules and regulations are sufficient. Current Rules and Regulations OSHA’s rules and regulations apply to the manufacturing side of the oil and gas industry, and these companies are required to do the following:

  • Write down their operating procedures
  • Assess risks at their workplaces
  • Ensure that critical equipment is in working order
  • Take steps to ensure that hazardous chemicals are not released into the atmosphere uncontrollably

Oil and gas drilling is exempt from these laws. New Rules Are Being Proposed In the 1990s, OSHA planned to write rules explicitly for the drilling industry, but the effort was never completed. This has become an issue again because of the recent explosion at the West Fertilizer Company fertilizer plant. As a result of this tragedy, the White House reacted by sending a directive to safety officials requesting that they increase chemical safety. OSHA answered the directive by informing the public that it would include oil and gas operations in its process safety management standards. According to the oil and gas drilling industry, this is a mistake. Rick Muncrief is the senior vice-president of operations for the oil producer Continental Resources, and he stated that OSHA’s suggestions are excessive. Opposition Officials with the Texas Oil & Gas Association stated that they were unaware of any data that proves an expansion of the process safety management standards would have made a difference in previous accidents. Regulatory adviser Gretchen Kern with Pioneer National Resources expressed her own concerns. Kern believes that federal and state regulations that are already in place do more to directly address safety in the oil and gas drilling arena than the new rules would. Further Opposition Officials with the American Petroleum Institute added their voices to this matter. Chief among their worries is the possibility that some companies would decide not to fund their current incident prevention programs because of the new regulations. The company’s senior policy adviser Ron Chittim suggested that it would be more productive for OSHA to target repeat offenders and enforce laws that are currently on the books than create new rules. People in the industry are worried because they presume that the entire industry is in jeopardy. Joseph Hurt of the International Association of Drilling Contractors believes that the new rules and regulations would serve the purpose of putting more people on the unemployment line. On top of that, he does not think that there would be an improvement in safety.