Performance-based Regulatory Models in the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry, Offshore and Onshore

Introduction and Background

On September 20-21, 2012, the Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); Department of Interior, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE); Department of Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard (USCG); Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) co-sponsored a stakeholder meeting on the use and implementation of performance-based regulatory models for enhanced safety and environmental performance in the United States oil and gas industry. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) assisted in coordinating the meeting and also sent a representative. The meeting took place at the College of the Mainland in Texas City, Texas and was hosted by the Gulf Coast Safety Institute. Speakers addressed the current regulatory landscape and discussed the challenges and benefits of non-prescriptive, outcome-based approaches to reduce the frequency and severity of harmful events. Public attendees were invited to make comments at several times during the meeting.


The purpose of the meeting was to gather information from experts and stakeholders to help inform the consideration of future applications of performance-based regulatory approaches in the oil and gas industry. The agencies solicited input on potential concepts and options, and were not proposing specific changes to existing regulations at the time of the meeting.

Sept. 20-21 Expert Forum Agenda

Day 1 (September 20th, 2012)

9:00 – 9:05 Welcome – Lawrence Durrence, Interim President, College of the Mainland
9:05 – 9:30 Opening Remarks – David Michaels, OSHA / Nathan Frey, OMB-OIRA
9:30 – 9:40 Review Agenda
9:40 – 9:55 Background Information – Lisa Long, OSHA
10:00 – 10:15 Occupational Safety and Health Administration – David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor, OSHA
10:15 – 10:30 Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement – Staci King, Chief, Safety & Environmental Management Systems Branch
10:30 – 10:45 ----- Break -----
10:45 – 11:00 United States Coast Guard – Commander Joshua Reynolds, Chief, Human Elements & Ship Design Division
11:00 – 11:15 Environmental Protection Agency – Pam Phillips, Acting Director, Superfund Division, Region VI
11:15 – 11:30 Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration – Linda Daugherty, Deputy Associate Administrator, Pipeline Safety – Policy and Programs
11:30 – 1:00 ----- Lunch Break -----
1:00 – 2:00 Public Comment Period
2:00 – 2:30 Mr. David Miller, American Petroleum Institute
2:30 – 2:45 ----- Break -----
2:45 – 3:15 Mr. Kim Nibarger, United Steelworkers
3:15 – 3:45 Dr. Andrew Hopkins, Australian National University
3:45 – 4:45 Public Comment
4:45 – 5:00 Closing

Day 2 (September 21st, 2012)

9:00 – 9:15 Opening Remarks
9:15 – 9:45 Don Abrahamson, Center for Chemical Process Safety
9:45 – 10:15 Dr. Sam Mannan, Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center
10:15 – 10:45 Ms. Cho Nai Cheung and Mr. Michael Dossey, California Accidental Release Prevention
10:45 – 11:00 ----- Break -----
11:00 – 12:15 Public Comment Period
12:15 – 12:30 Closing Remarks

Questions Considered at the Meeting

  1. What are some benefits of using a performance-based regulatory regime to regulate the oil and gas industry? What are some drawbacks? In making this evaluation, consider health, safety, environmental, and economic impacts, as well as implementation challenges, cost to regulatory agencies, and long-term hazard-reduction effectiveness. Refer to specific models and provide data, when appropriate.
  2. Could there be a balance of performance vs. prescriptive regulations and standards in the U.S. oil and gas industry and, if so, what should it be? Does this balance vary for certain types of operations, business sizes, etc.?
  3. Is there a way to advance the use of performance-based regulations and standards in the U.S. oil and gas Industry? If so, what is the best way? Consider means, cost to regulatory agencies, cost for industry, and expected changes in developing your response.
  4. Could uniform implementation of performance-based regulations and standards improve efficiency and reduce duplication in a hazardous industry regulated by multiple agencies? If so, how?
  5. What are the biggest challenges to successful implementation of performance-based regulations in the U.S. oil and gas industry?
  6. How can risk assessment best be used in performance-based regulations while still ensuring adequate levels of safety? If risk assessments are used in a performance-based regulation, should acceptable risk levels be established?
  7. How have authorities that currently use performance-based regulatory models ensured effective oversight (e.g., use of metrics, audit programs)?
  8. Are there limits to the use of performance-based regulatory models? For example, do performance-based regulatory models increase or decrease challenges for small businesses in comparison to prescriptive models? Are prescriptive components needed/desirable, and if so, under what situations?

Resource Materials

PowerPoint presentations from the meeting, public comments, and additional materials are available in the public docket for the meeting. To access the docket, you can go to and perform a search for OSHA-2012-0033, or you can click on the individual presentation links below:

Submitting Comments

The docket will remain open until October 22, 2012. You may submit comments and additional materials electronically, or by facsimile (fax) or hard copy.

Electronically: You may submit comments and attachments electronically at Follow the instructions on-line for making electronic submissions.

Fax: If your submissions, including attachments, are not longer than 10 pages, you may fax them to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693-1648.

Mail, hand delivery, express mail, or messenger or courier service: You may submit comments and attachments to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. 2012-0033, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210. The Docket Office will accept deliveries (hand, express mail, or messenger or courier service) during the Department of Labor's and Docket Office's normal business hours, 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., EST.

Instructions: All submissions must identify the Agency name and the OSHA docket number for this meeting (OSHA Docket No. 2012-0033). You may supplement electronic submissions by uploading document attachments and files electronically. If, instead, you wish to mail additional materials in reference to an electronic or fax submission, you must submit three copies to the OSHA Docket Office. The additional materials must clearly identify your electronic submissions by name, date, and docket number so OSHA can attach them to your submissions. Because of security-related procedures, the use of regular mail may cause a significant delay in the receipt of submissions. For information about security procedures concerning the delivery of materials by hand delivery, express mail, or messenger or courier service, please contact the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693-2350 (TTY (877) 889-5627).

For Further Information Contact:

For press inquiries: Mr. Frank Meilinger, Director, OSHA Office of Communications, Room N-3647, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693-1999; e-mail:

For general and technical information about the meeting: Ms. Lisa Long, Director, Office of Engineering Safety, OSHA, Directorate of Standards and Guidance, Room N-3609, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693-2222; e-mail: