What is in the standard
The Well Control Rule became law on April 14, 2016, when the BSEE announced the release of the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control rule (Final Rule). The final Well Control Rule results in one of the most significant safety and environmental protection reforms the Department of Interior has undertaken – its purpose is to reduce the risk of an offshore oil or gas blowout that could result in the loss of life, serious injuries or substantial harm to the environment through modernizing and strengthening offshore energy standards.
Real Time Monitoring (RTM) of data in final rule (§ 250.724) requires operators to gather and monitor real-time well data using an independent, automatic, and continuous monitoring system capable of recording, storing, and transmitting data regarding the BOP control system, the well’s fluid handling system on the rig, and the well’s downhole conditions with the bottom hole assembly tools. These data must be transmitted as they are gathered (barring any unforeseen interruptions) and have the capability to monitor the data onshore, using qualified personnel, in accordance with a real-time monitoring plan.
This plan requires real-time monitoring capabilities, data transmission onshore during operations, data storage, procedures for providing BSEE access, procedures for communication between rig personnel and the onshore monitoring personnel, and actions to be taken if you lose any real-time monitoring capabilities or communications between rig and onshore personnel and how BSEE is to be notified.
Relationship to Unidirectional Gateways
The requirement of real time data monitoring makes connecting ICS and business networks unavoidable. Oil companies will need to consider a new host of vulnerabilities and risks associated with connecting drilling rig industrial control systems to outside data centers in real time. This scenario makes unidirectional gateways all the more relevant when meeting data requirements of the Well Control Rule.
Due to recent cyber attacks in the maritime industry, cyber security is quickly becoming front of mind for many operators. As new drilling rigs are already being built pursuant to the updated BSEE industry standards. People working in the offshore energy industry have expressed real concern that real-time monitoring could introduce potential cybersecurity threats that could put at risk failure of critical safety systems.