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Regulations & Standards

Regulations & Standards

Potential Incident of Noncompliance (PINC)

Potential Incident of Noncompliance (PINC) – Checklist items which BSEE inspects to promote safe operations on the Outer Continental Shelf. This list of inspection items is derived from all regulations for safety and environmental standards. Guidelines Certain sections of the PINC Guidelines may be periodically updated to reflect changes in the Code of Federal Regulations. When these changes are necessary, the most recent update will be posted under the heading or subheading of the opened file.


In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, the United States government instituted significant new safeguards to protect the environment beyond what had ever existed. These new safety measures include heightened drilling safety standards to reduce the chances that a loss of well control might occur in the first place, as well as a new focus on containment capabilities in the event of an oil spill. 

BSEE operations are governed by a wide variety of laws, regulations, and other communications with the offshore industry. The Bureau enforces compliance with these regulations and periodically updates rules to reflect advancements in technology and new information. This section provides access to BSEE rules, regulations, and guidance to the offshore industry.

Regulatory Reform - In response to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the government launched the most aggressive and comprehensive reforms to offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight in U.S. history.

Notices to Lessees and Operators – Communications with operators and contractors that further clarify regulations. – a U.S. government web site that enables the public to review and submit comments on Federal documents.

BSEE Federal Regulations - (eCFR)

BSEE Governing Statutes

Regulatory Interpretations

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Standards Development program collaborates with Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) and the international community to develop new or revised standards for safety and environmental protection on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). This collaboration enables BSEE to minimize the time to identify and incorporate new and updated industry standards into the regulatory program.

Documents Incorporated by Reference

Incorporation By Reference (IBR) allows Federal agencies to comply with the requirement to publish rules in the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) by referring to material already published elsewhere. The legal effect of Incorporation By Reference is that the material is treated as if it were published in the Federal Register and CFR. This material, like any other properly issued rule, has the force and effect of law. Congress authorized incorporation by reference in the Freedom of Information Act to reduce the volume of material published in the Federal Register and CFR. (See 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51). Congress gave complete authority to the Director of the Federal Register to determine whether a proposed incorporation by reference serves the public interest and approve the agency's IBR request.

For a list of BSEE incorporated standards see § 250.198 Documents incorporated by reference at under Title 30, Part 250.

Developing Standards

BSEE incorporates over 100 technical standards into its regulatory program. The standards are related to equipment specifications, operating practices, equipment manufacturing, and hydrocarbon measurement. Currently, BSEE is working with industry on a variety of standards-related issues key to enhancing safety on the OCS. These include, but are not limited to, deepwater operations, Safety and Environmental Management Systems, cementing, cranes, high pressure high temperature, and safety valves.

When consultation and participation is in the public interest and is compatible with the agency's missions, authorities, priorities, and budget resources, under the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (Pub. L.104-113) BSEE must consult with voluntary consensus standards bodies, both domestic and international and participate with such bodies in the development of voluntary consensus standards. Standards developed by voluntary consensus standards bodies are often appropriate for use in achieving BSEE policy objectives and in conducting federal activities, including procurement and regulation. Participation in the standards development process provides BSEE with information on how a specific standard should be interpreted by the agency or used to address regulatory needs. Participation aids in the decision-making process of whether to incorporate a standard or an updated standard into our regulations.

For all those working on offshore oil and gas facilities, safety and environmental protection is the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE’s) highest priority. No issue is too small or too great. A change in industry standards or practices, an incident or frequently required administrative action may warrant a change in the Bureau’s regulations or policies. New regulatory safeguards to improve safety or protect the environment can heighten drilling safety standards and help reduce the chances of a loss of well control, as well as, add focus on new technologies, tools, containment capabilities, processes and procedures in the event of an oil spill.

Under the Statutory Authority of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), 43 U.S.C. 1331-1356a, BSEE executes its responsibilities and mission. Its regulations promote safety, protect the environment, and conserve resources. BSEE’s regulatory programs include developing and implementing regulations and rules, such as the Well Control Rule and Arctic Rule. Additionally, BSEE issues regulatory interpretations, guidance and assessments of industry and international standards for potential use in its regulations.

However, the Bureau's operations are governed by a wide variety of laws, regulations, and Executive Orders and are often informed by communications with the offshore industry. The Bureau enforces compliance with these regulations and periodically updates the rules to reflect advancements in technology and new information.

See BSEE's regulatory interpretations for more information. In the rare instances in which BSEE may change its interpretation of a regulation, it will explain the change on this web page.

To request an interpretation of a BSEE regulation, please submit your request by email to

Regulatory Interpretations

BSEE is responsible for developing, implementing, and enforcing regulations concerning oil, gas, and sulphur exploration, development, and production operations on the Outer Continental Shelf. BSEE also reviews and approves oil spill response plans submitted by owners and operators of offshore facilities and undertakes periodic inspections of oil spill response equipment.

BSEE regularly receives requests to interpret or provide guidance concerning its regulations. This web page contains BSEE’s responses to requests for interpretations of its regulations. A regulatory interpretation provides BSEE’s understanding of the meaning of a regulation. BSEE will review each request it receives and determine whether it presents an issue appropriate for interpretation and is of sufficient public interest to merit publishing a response.  BSEE typically will not respond to questions regarding individual, fact-specific circumstances or the basis for promulgating a specific regulation. However, to the extent that BSEE finalizes a regulatory interpretation in response to a request, BSEE typically will publish both the request and BSEE’s response on this webpage. If a request for a regulatory interpretation poses a question not relevant to the cited regulation, BSEE will notify the requester that a response will not be issued.

Not all questions and responses will be published on

Well Control Rule Questions and Answers