Feds Introduce Tighter Regulations for Offshore Drilling Projects

The new guidelines "serve to hold offshore operators accountable and ensure that the industry and the country are fully prepared to deal with catastrophic blowouts and oil spills like the Deepwater Horizon," said the director of the Bureau of Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement. Feds say they also plan to tighten regulation of existing deep- and shallow-water drilling projects pending an environmental analysis of the entire Gulf of Mexico.

The more stringent environmental reviews are part of a wave of new regulation and legislation that promises to fundamentally remake an industry that has operated hand-in-glove with its government overseers for decades.

If approved by Congress, the bill would mean that oil firms responsible for spills could face unlimited charges to cover compensation and clean-up costs.

The bill would also be applied retroactively to BP, although the company has already pledged to honour all reasonable compensation requests and last month agreed to pay $2bn into an independently administered compensation and clean-up fund.