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API discloses industry standards

By Juliet Eilperin
The nation's top oil and gas group has agreed to let the public see dozens of federal offshore drilling rules online for free -- though they'll still have to pay to print them out.

The agreement between the American Petroleum Institute and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement provides a partial fix to a quirk in public disclosure rules when it comes to certain federal regulations. Over several decades, the government has adopted at least 78 API industry standards, word-for-word, in the Federal Register. But to actually obtain the details, citizens had to either purchase them from API or view them in person at either a federal office in Herndon or at the National Archives and Records Administration.

On Monday, API President Jack Gerard and Michael Bromwich, who heads BOEMRE, announced that the standards will now be available online for free.

"The American public have the right to review agency regulations that have a direct impact on the oil and gas industry, and to better understand how regulators and inspectors are making decisions that will keep people safer," said Bromwich, who pressed for the change. "I appreciate API President Gerard's willingness to personally meet and work with me to ensure that we have as transparent a process as possible."

But there's a catch -- if you want to print them out, you'll still have to pay for it. API spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel said he did not know the exact cost, but historically it has cost at least $100 to obtain a copy of an API industry standard.

In a statement, Gerard said having copies of a standard that had been incorporated into federal rules "in only a few locations did not meet our industry's goal of transparency. The industry's standards represent our commitment to safe and successful operations and practices. Wider access through online viewing platforms is part of our public commitment."

Once changes to the API Web site are complete, a total of 160 standards -- some of which apply to other oil and gas activities, such as hydraulic fracturing and pipeline safety standards -- will be available online, according to API.

By

Juliet Eilperin

 |  August 23, 2010; 6:27 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Comments

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I'm still debating benefits and costs associated with offshore drilling. Most of the time offshore drilling is safe, although recently the record is not as great, but if companies make a concerted effort to have safe conditions I'm sure it is obtainable.

My issue with offshore drilling and offshore rigs is how it will look in the future. Long after I'm dead and generations later, will people be looking at a world with rigs all over the ocean? This situation reminds me of the Matrix movie for some odd reason. Just odd-looking to have rigs all over the ocean and sort of sad because the ocean is a pretty place. I think sometimes we lose focus on the natural process of how things have evolved on the earth and get caught up in our consumption etc. besides the point though.... your comments would be appreciated so I can evaluate pros/cons of offshore drilling and future outlook, thanks!

Back to point now, maybe we should rethink our strategy on offshore drilling and alternative energy. There should be a benchmark for safety conditions for offshore rigs and the public has a right to this information without paying for it. Its not like the drilling rules and safety procedures violate some patent or tech related copyright. Education in my opinion is always good and is beneficial to everyone.

Maybe a combination of offshore drilling and alternative energy products will be the best solution for providing the needed energy for the general public. For more information and research on alternative energy products, visit www.solartown.com

Thanks for your comments for those who post. Have a wonderful and safe holiday!

Regards,
Tom_D_solartown

Posted by: tom_d_solartown | September 3, 2010 12:23 PM
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