[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 185 (Wednesday, September 24, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 57008-57015]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-22716]



Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

30 CFR Part 250

[Docket ID: BSEE-2014-0001]
RIN 1014-AA22

Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf 
(OCS); Helideck and Aviation Fuel Safety for Fixed Offshore Facilities

AGENCY: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), 

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.


SUMMARY: The BSEE is seeking comments on improving safety for 
operations related to helicopters and helidecks on fixed offshore 
facilities. Specifically, BSEE invites comments on whether to 
incorporate in its regulations certain industry and/or international 
standards for design, construction, and maintenance of offshore 
helidecks, as well as standards for aviation fuel quality, storage and 
handling. The BSEE also invites comments on whether it should 
incorporate existing standards, with modifications, and/or develop and 
propose new government regulatory standards for safety of helidecks and 
aviation fuel systems. As an alternative to incorporating or developing 
such standards, BSEE invites comments on whether to require submission 
of aviation-related safety plans for helidecks and offshore aviation 
fuel systems on Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) facilities. The BSEE also 
seeks information on past accidents or other incidents involving 
helidecks, helicopters, or aviation fuel on or near fixed OCS 

DATES: Submit comments by November 24, 2014. The BSEE may not fully 
consider comments received after this date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this notice by any of the 
following methods. Please use the Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) 
1014-AA22 as an identifier in your comments. In addition, please refer 
to ``Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations in the Outer Continental 
Shelf--Helideck and Aviation Fuel Safety for Fixed Offshore Facilities, 
1014-AA22,'' in your comments and include your name and return address. 
The BSEE may post all submitted comments, in their entirety, at 
www.regulations.gov. See Public Availability of Comments.

--Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the entry 
titled ``Enter Keyword or ID,'' enter BSEE-2014-0001, then click 
search. Follow the instructions to submit public comments and view 
supporting and related materials available for this rulemaking.
--Mail or hand-carry comments to the Department of the Interior (DOI); 
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement; Attention: Regulations 
and Standards Branch; Office of Offshore Regulatory Programs; 381 Elden 
Street, HE3313; Herndon, Virginia 20170-4817.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ralph Colleli, Regulations and 
Standards Branch, 703-787-1831, email address: [email protected].


Executive Summary

    In accordance with the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), 
BSEE and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) share regulatory authority over 
offshore facilities engaged in oil and gas operations--including 
exploration, development, and production activities--on the OCS. Among 
other purposes, BSEE's regulations for offshore operations seek to 
prevent injury or loss of life and damage to property, natural 
resources, and the environment. As one means of achieving these goals, 
BSEE incorporates by reference in its regulations many industry 
standards applicable to offshore oil and gas operations.
    Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has broad 
authority regarding helicopter-related safety issues and onshore and 
offshore flight safety, BSEE has the lead responsibility for safety of 
helidecks and aviation fuel storage and handling on fixed offshore 
facilities, while the USCG has the lead responsibility for helidecks 
and aviation fuel handling on floating offshore facilities. Currently, 
BSEE's regulations incorporate and require compliance with certain 
industry standards that address some safety issues related to helidecks 
and the presence of helicopters and aviation fuel on fixed offshore 
facilities. However, BSEE's existing regulations do not comprehensively 
address helideck or aviation fuel safety issues.
    Recent reports by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention (CDC) and the Helicopter Safety Advisory Conference confirm 
that helicopter accidents and helicopter-related incidents on or near 
offshore facilities are a significant concern. Similarly, incident 
reports submitted by offshore operators to the Minerals Management 
Service (MMS)--BSEE's predecessor agency--or to BSEE over the past 15 
years indicate that incidents involving helicopter operations on or 
near offshore facilities have resulted in several fatalities, 
significant injuries and substantial property damage.
    The BSEE has reviewed existing industry and international standards 
for helideck and aviation fuel safety and believes that certain 
standards, if incorporated into BSEE's regulations for fixed offshore 
facilities, could improve safety and reduce risks of injury and

[[Page 57009]]

damage to property without imposing undue burdens on the offshore oil 
and gas industry. However, we are also considering possible 
alternatives to incorporating, and requiring compliance with, relevant 
existing standards. For example, BSEE could incorporate only parts of 
existing standards, or incorporate certain standards with specific 
modifications, or even develop and adopt government standards, if 
appropriate. In addition, in lieu of requiring compliance with specific 
standards, we are considering whether to require that fixed offshore 
facility owners or operators develop aviation-related safety plans that 
demonstrate how each facility would ensure safety and minimize risks 
associated with helidecks and aviation fuel systems.
    Before incorporating any existing standards or otherwise revising 
our regulations, we seek additional information about helicopter, 
helideck, and aviation fuel-related incidents related to fixed offshore 
facilities. In addition, we invite public comments on other issues 
related to offshore helideck and aviation fuel safety, including:

--Any technical differences between fixed and floating facility 
helidecks; and
--The potential costs of requiring compliance with various industry and 
international standards, including the potential costs of retrofitting 
existing helidecks and aviation fuel systems on fixed OCS facilities.

BSEE's Functions and Authority

    The BSEE promotes safety, protects the environment, and conserves 
offshore oil and gas resources through vigorous regulatory oversight 
and enforcement. The BSEE derives its regulatory authority primarily 
from the OCSLA, as amended, 43 U.S.C. 1331-1356a, which establishes 
Federal control over the OCS and authorizes the Secretary of the 
Interior (the Secretary) to regulate oil and natural gas exploration, 
development, and production operations on the OCS. In Secretarial Order 
3299 (May 19, 2010), the Secretary assigned BSEE the responsibility for 
offshore safety and environmental enforcement, including the authority 

--Issue permits for activities,
--Inspect, investigate, summon witnesses, and order production of 
--Levy penalties,
--Cancel or suspend activities,
--Oversee safety, response and removal preparedness, and
--Ensure conservation of offshore oil and natural gas resources (see 76 
FR 64432, Oct. 18, 2011).

    To carry out its responsibilities, BSEE regulates exploration, 
development, and production of oil and natural gas on the OCS to 
enhance safety and environmental protection in a way that reflects 
advancements in technology and new information. In addition to 
developing and implementing such regulatory requirements, BSEE 
collaborates with standards development organizations and the 
international community to develop and revise safety and environmental 
standards, which BSEE may incorporate into its regulatory program. The 
BSEE also conducts on-site inspections to ensure compliance with 
regulations, lease terms, and approved plans. Detailed information 
concerning BSEE's regulations and guidance for the offshore industry 
may be found on BSEE's Web site at: http://www.bsee.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/index.

Public Participation and Availability of Comments

    The BSEE encourages you to participate in this advance notice of 
proposed rulemaking (ANPR) by submitting written comments as provided 
in the ADDRESSES and DATES sections of this notice. However, before 
including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal 
identifying information in your comments, you should be aware that your 
entire comment--including your personal identifying information--may be 
made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your 
comments to withhold your personal identifying information from public 
view, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Procedures for Incorporation by Reference and Availability of 
Incorporated Documents for Public Viewing

    In accordance with the National Technology Transfer and Advancement 
Act of 1995, Public Law 104-113, and OMB Circular A-119, Federal 
agencies are directed to use standards developed by voluntary consensus 
standards bodies--domestic or international--in lieu of adopting 
government-unique standards, except where inconsistent with law or 
impracticable. In addition, Federal agencies may choose to use 
standards developed by entities other than voluntary consensus 
standards bodies in their regulations.
    The BSEE frequently uses standards (e.g., codes, specifications, 
recommended practices (RP), bulletins, and reports) developed through a 
consensus process, facilitated by standards development organizations 
and with input from the oil and gas industry, as a means of 
establishing requirements for activities on the OCS. The BSEE may 
incorporate these standards into its regulations without republishing 
the standards in their entirety in the Code of Federal Regulations, a 
practice known as incorporation by reference. The legal effect of 
incorporation by reference is that the incorporated provisions become 
regulatory requirements. This incorporated material, like any other 
properly issued regulation, has the force and effect of law, and BSEE 
holds operators, lessees and other regulated parties accountable for 
complying with the incorporated documents. We currently incorporate by 
reference over 100 consensus standards in BSEE's regulations governing 
offshore oil and gas operations (see 30 CFR 250.198).
    Federal regulations at 1 CFR part 51 govern how BSEE and other 
Federal agencies incorporate various documents by reference. Agencies 
may incorporate a document by reference by publishing the document's 
title, edition, date, author, publisher, identification number, and 
other specified information in the Federal Register. The Director of 
the Federal Register must approve each publication incorporated by 
reference in a final rule. Incorporation by reference of a document or 
publication is limited to the specific edition approved by the Director 
of the Federal Register.

 Background Information for Helideck and Aviation Fuel Safety on Fixed 
OCS Facilities

1. Responsibility for Offshore Helideck and Helicopter-Related Safety

    In a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) dated September 30, 2004 (No. 
OCS-01), MMS and USCG identified, and agreed on how to share, certain 
responsibilities for regulation of OCS facilities. Under that MOA, MMS 
and USCG agreed that MMS (now BSEE) has the lead responsibility for 
aircraft (i.e., helicopter) landing and refueling systems (i.e., 
helidecks, fuel handling and storage) on fixed offshore facilities and 
that USCG has the lead for the same systems on mobile offshore drilling 
units (MODUs) and other floating offshore facilities.\1\ Subsequent 
MOAs (Nos. OCS-04, OCS-05, OCS-08) between USCG and MMS/BSEE have 
reiterated this sharing of responsibility for helidecks and aviation 
fuel handling

[[Page 57010]]

and storage.\2\ Similarly, the FAA, which regulates onshore helipads 
and onshore and offshore helicopter flight safety, has recognized that 
helidecks on fixed offshore facilities are under the purview of DOI and 
that ``shipboard and relocatable'' helidecks are under the purview of 
USCG (see U.S. Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), 22nd Ed., 
Amendment 3, July 24, 2014, at p. 1.7-95).\3\

    \1\ Various terms are commonly used to describe the landing area 
for helicopters on offshore facilities, including ``offshore 
heliport,'' ``helicopter landing deck,'' and ``helideck.'' For 
simplicity and consistency, this ANPR uses the term ``helideck.''
    \2\ The MMS/BSEE-USCG MOAs are available at www.bsee.gov/BSEE-Newsroom/Publications-Library/Interagency-Agreements.
    \3\ This FAA publication is available at http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/aip/aip_w_amds_1-3_dtd_7-24-14.pdf.

    a. USCG regulations. For U.S.-flagged MODUs, USCG has specific 
regulations for construction and size, fire protection, and location 
and markings for helidecks and for aviation fuel storage facilities and 
equipment (see 46 CFR 108.231--108.241, 108.486-108.489, 108.653, 
109.575--109.577). Under 33 CFR 143.207 and 146.205, those regulations 
or equivalent requirements also apply to foreign-flagged MODUs.\4\ The 
only USCG regulation expressly addressing helidecks on OCS facilities 
other than MODUs is 33 CFR 143.110(b), which requires a protective 
device (e.g., a guardrail) around the perimeter of a helideck 
sufficient to prevent a person from falling.

    \4\ Under 33 CFR 143.207 and 146.205, foreign-flagged MODUs 
engaged in OCS activities must comply with 46 CFR part 108 and part 
109, respectively, or with equivalent standards of the relevant 
foreign nation, or with applicable standards of the International 
Maritime Organization.

    b. BSEE regulations. Under 30 CFR part 250, BSEE currently 
regulates over 2,500 fixed OCS facilities--mostly located in the Gulf 
of Mexico (GOM) Region--the great majority of which have helidecks for 
transporting personnel and supplies offshore. \5\ With the following 
exceptions, however, BSEE's regulations do not expressly address 
helicopter, helideck, or aviation fuel safety issues.

    \5\ As provided by 30 CFR 250.132(a)(2), OCS lessees and 
operators must provide helicopter landing sites and refueling 
facilities for any helicopters used by BSEE to regulate offshore 

    Section 250.154(a)(2) requires all OCS facilities with helidecks to 
display identification signs that include the weight capacity of the 
helidecks and that are visible from the air. Section 250.490(f)(7) 
requires facilities operating in hydrogen sulfide (H2S) areas to submit 
contingency plans to BSEE that describe circumstances under which it is 
appropriate to evacuate personnel by helicopter during H2S emergencies; 
while section 250.490(j)(13)(viii) requires facilities to limit H2S-
related evacuation flights to the circumstances described in their 
contingency plans and to provide respirator equipment to helicopter 
crews and passengers in such emergencies.
    The BSEE's regulations also incorporate and require compliance with 
several industry standards that address helideck and aviation fuel 
safety issues. \6\ For example, 30 CFR 250.114 requires installation of 
electrical systems on all OCS facilities in compliance with American 
Petroleum Institute (API) RP 14F (Design, Installation, and Maintenance 
of Electrical Systems for Fixed and Floating Offshore Petroleum 
Facilities, Fifth Edition) or API RP 14FZ (Design and Installation of 
Electrical Systems for Fixed and Floating Offshore Petroleum 
Facilities, First Edition). Those standards (which differ slightly 
according to the location of the platforms) include criteria:

    \6\ In addition, BSEE issued a national Notice to Lessees (No. 
2011 N-08) in October 2011 advising OCS lessees and operators on how 
to mark helidecks for temporary closures, consistent with Helicopter 
Safety Advisory Conference Recommended Practices 2008-01 and 92-5.

--For installation of perimeter lights, aircraft warning lights, and 
general lighting of helidecks, and
--For locating antennas on platforms in areas that will not obstruct 

    In addition, 30 CFR 250.901(a)(14) requires that plans for design, 
analysis, fabrication, installation, use, maintenance, inspection, and 
assessment of all OCS platforms comply with API RP 14J (Design and 
Hazards Analysis for Offshore Production Facilities, Second Edition), 
as appropriate.\7\ In effect, API RP 14J states that facility operators 
should consider the location of helicopter fuel, helicopters, and 
helidecks on production facilities when designing gas venting and 
flaring equipment and platform communications systems. In addition, 
Appendix A.2 of API RP 14J provides a sample checklist of questions 
that operators may consider in developing facility-specific hazards 
analyses for their production facilities, including several questions 
regarding the design, layout, and materials for helidecks and the 
location of helicopter fueling systems.

    \7\ Similarly, 30 CFR 250.800(b)(1) requires production safety 
systems on new floating production facilities to comply with API RP 

    While sections 250.901 and 250.114 do not directly impose helideck 
or aviation fuel storage requirements on facility operators, they allow 
BSEE to consider whether plans for offshore production platforms are 
consistent with API RP 14J and whether the installation of electrical 
systems on all facilities is consistent with API RP 14F/14FZ.
    In addition, BSEE's regulations require that each offshore facility 
be covered by a Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) 
program that addresses, among other things, safety and environmental 
hazards related to design, construction, operation and maintenance of 
the facility (see 30 CFR part 250, Subpart S). Because helideck and 
aviation fuel systems are features of most fixed offshore facilities, 
the SEMS programs for those facilities would also extend to those 
systems. Similarly, the SEMS rules require that contractors performing 
work for such facilities have written safe work practices, which may 
include appropriate sections of the facilities' SEMS programs (see 30 
CFR 250.1914).
    Moreover, section 250.107 requires OCS operators to: Perform all 
operations in a safe and workmanlike manner; maintain all equipment and 
work areas in a safe condition; and immediately control, remove or 
otherwise correct any health, safety or fire hazard. Under this 
authority, BSEE has issued notices of Incidents of Noncompliance (INCs) 
for unsafe conditions involving helidecks or related equipment or 
areas. From 1998 to mid-2013, MMS/BSEE issued over 400 INCs under 
section 250.107(a) to fixed OCS facilities for unsafe conditions 
involving helidecks.\8\ Similarly, MMS/BSEE has issued over 100 INCs 
for noncompliance with the helideck facility identification 
requirements of section 250.154(a)(2).

    \8\ Examples of unsafe or unworkmanlike helideck conditions 
cited in INCs include: Missing, corroded, or damaged helideck 
skirting; loose or damaged helideck surfaces; corroded helideck 
supports; loose equipment or other obstructions on helidecks; and 
loose or damaged handrails, guardrails, stairways or ladders. In 
addition, BSEE has issued several INCs under 30 CFR 250.107(a) for 
aviation fuel handling equipment.

2. Safety Incidents Related to Helidecks and Offshore Helicopter-
Related Operations

    Despite the existing BSEE and USCG regulatory provisions, safety of 
helicopter-related systems and operations on and near offshore 
facilities remains a concern. In April 2013, the CDC reported that, 
based on industry data, the leading cause of death for offshore oil and 
gas extraction workers between 2003 and 2010 was transportation to and 
from work sites.\9\ Specifically, CDC's analysis indicates that of 128 
fatalities involving offshore

[[Page 57011]]

oil and gas operations, 49 persons died in 17 incidents involving 
helicopters. The CDC reported that the most common factors in those 
incidents were mechanical failure and bad weather (although there were 
no bad weather crashes from late 2009 through 2012). It is not clear 
from this report whether any of the incidents occurred on or near fixed 
offshore facilities.\10\ However, the CDC report was based in part on 
an analysis of National Transportation Safety Board data on GOM 
helicopter crashes related to the oil and gas industry from 1983 
through 2009 indicating that:

    \9\ The CDC report is available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6216a2.htm?s_cid=mm6216a2_w.
    \10\ The CDC report also does not indicate how many incidents 
involved fixed offshore facilities and how many involved MODUs or 
other floating offshore facilities. Nor does that report indicate 
how many of the incidents were caused by factors that potentially 
could be addressed by BSEE regulations under OCSLA.

--19 crashes, resulting in six fatalities, involved helicopters 
striking objects on offshore platforms, and
--Eight crashes, resulting in one fatality, involved failure to remove 
tie-downs before takeoff from offshore platforms.\11\

    \11\ See ``Helicopter Crashes Related to Oil and Gas Operations 
in the Gulf of Mexico,'' Journal of Aviation, Space and Env. Med., 
Sept. 2011 (S. Baker, et al.), at pp. 885-888.

    Similarly, in May 2014, the Helicopter Safety Advisory Conference 
(HSAC)--an organization that represents petroleum companies, drilling 
and oil service companies, and helicopter operators and manufacturers 
and that focuses on identifying and sharing information about offshore 
helicopter safety in the GOM--reported that there were 21 offshore 
helicopter accidents in the GOM between 2009 and 2013, resulting in 11 
fatalities and 15 injuries. The HSAC also reported that, between 1999 
and 2013, 17 offshore helicopter accidents involved helideck or other 
obstacle strikes, and six accidents involved aviation fuel management 
problems (although HSAC's report does not indicate how many helicopter 
incidents involved fixed offshore facilities and how many involved 
MODUs or floating offshore facilities).\12\

    \12\ HSAC's annual statistical reports on offshore helicopter 
incidents for 1999 through 2013 are available at http://hsac.org/Statistics.aspx.

    The HSAC has also stated that, over the years, its member 
organizations have reported engine-related events resulting from 
aviation fuel contamination, although it is not clear from HSAC's 
statements whether the reported fuel management and contamination 
problems occurred onshore or offshore (see HSAC RP 2004-02 (Jet Fuel 
Quality Procedures), May 2012, at p.1).
    The BSEE's own incident data also indicate that there are ongoing 
safety concerns with helidecks and helicopter-related operations on OCS 
facilities. Under section 250.188, the BSEE receives reports from OCS 
operators and lessees regarding certain incidents--including 
fatalities, significant injuries, property damage exceeding $25,000, 
and fires and explosions--that occur anywhere on their lease areas. 
Between 1998 and mid-2014, BSEE received almost 100 incident reports 
involving helicopters, helidecks, or aviation fuel on or near fixed OCS 
facilities in the GOM and Pacific regions. Many of these reports 
involved helicopters crashing or ditching in the water before or after 
landing on OCS facilities for reasons (e.g., mechanical failures, bad 
weather, or pilot error) that may be unrelated to circumstances onboard 
the OCS facilities. A few of the engine failure incidents may have been 
related to contaminated fuel, although it is not clear from the 
incident reports whether the fuel in those incidents was provided 
onshore or offshore. In addition, a significant number of the incidents 
reported to BSEE involved helicopters striking parts of a platform or 
other materials on or close to a helideck. The remaining incidents 
included wind-related damage to helicopters that had already landed on 
a helideck, injuries to persons exiting or boarding helicopters on 
platforms, and other injuries on helidecks or resulting from helicopter 
operations. The BSEE is also aware of concerns that some helicopter 
accidents or near-misses may have been related to the engine's 
ingestion of methane gas vented by a fixed OCS facility, although the 
exact causes of some events have not yet been confirmed.
    The CDC, HSAC and BSEE reports do not indicate, however, whether 
any of the OCS facilities involved in helicopter-related incidents were 
or were not meeting voluntary industry standards for helidecks and 
aviation fuel safety at the time.

3. Domestic Standards and Guidance for Helidecks and Helicopter-Related 
Operations on Offshore Platforms

    Several industry and other organizations have developed voluntary 
standards or guidance expressly addressing safety issues related to 
helicopters, helidecks, and aviation fuel on offshore facilities.
    API RP 2L (Planning, Designing, and Constructing Heliports for 
Fixed Offshore Platforms), 4th Ed. (1999, reaffirmed 2006), is a widely 
accepted voluntary consensus standard for design and construction of 
new helidecks on fixed offshore platforms. Among other safety issues, 
API RP 2L addresses:

--Helideck structural materials and flight deck surfaces, Helideck 
design loads,
--Location and size of helidecks,
--Design of approach/departure and obstacle-free zones,
--Location of helideck access and egress stairways and ladders,
--Helideck fire protection,
--Helideck safety equipment, including tie-down points and ropes,
--Helideck lighting and markings,
--Wind direction indicators, and
--Positioning of aviation fueling stations on fixed platforms.

    The API is in the process of updating and substantially revising 
API RP 2L. It is our understanding that API expects to publish 
revisions to API RP 2L in three stages. The first stage (tentatively 
referred to as API 2L-1) is undergoing review in the API standard 
setting process and may be published later in 2014. We understand that 
API 2L-1 is intended to address planning, design and construction of 
new helidecks on fixed offshore platforms. The second phase of the 
revisions to API RP 2L (tentatively called API 2L-2) is expected to 
address assessment, maintenance and management of existing (legacy) 
helidecks constructed prior to the publication of API RP 2L in 1996. 
The third phase of the revisions (tentatively API 2L-3) is expected to 
address operations and management of all new and existing helidecks.
    The BSEE has participated in relevant API committees and working 
groups responsible for drafting the first phase of the revisions to API 
RP 2L and will continue to closely monitor development of that document 
as well as the second and third phases of the revisions.
    The HSAC has published several RPs applicable to offshore 
helicopter and helideck operations and aviation fuel quality. The 
HSAC--although not a consensus standard-setting organization--developed 
these RPs and guidelines in cooperation with API, the Offshore 
Operators Committee, and various other industry and technical 
organizations interested in offshore and aviation safety.\13\

    \13\ All of the HSAC recommended practices are available for 
free online at HSAC's Web site, www.hsac.org.

    Specifically, HSAC RP 2004-1 (Offshore Helideck Inspections) 
complements existing API RP 2L by recommending practices and providing

[[Page 57012]]

a checklist for inspecting helidecks, identifying potentially hazardous 
conditions (structural and temporary), and notifying helicopter 
operators of potential hazards. Similarly, HSAC RP 2004-07 (Helideck 
Hazards) encourages training for helicopter pilots to identify and 
report potential helideck obstructions and other hazards so facility 
owners can take corrective action.
    In addition, HSAC RP 2008-01 (GOM Helideck Markings) is intended to 
provide some consistency for markings on fixed platform helidecks in 
the GOM, based in part on API RP 2L and in part on international 
standards such as Annex 14 to the Convention on International Civil 
Aviation (CICA) adopted by the International Civil Aviation 
Organization (ICAO) and the United Kingdom's (UK) Civil Aviation 
Authority Publication (CAP) 437 (Standards for Offshore Helicopter 
Landing Areas), Feb. 2013. In particular, HSAC RP 2008-01 provides 
detailed guidance for issues such as:

--Final approach and take-off area identification,
--Obstacle-free sector identification,
--Installation identification,
--Access points,
--Maximum allowable weight,
--Helicopter size limits, and
--Prohibited landing areas.

    Although helicopter operators are typically responsible for 
ensuring the quality of their own fuel under agreements with offshore 
facility operators, HSAC RP 2004-02 (Jet Fuel Quality Control 
Procedures), revised May 2012, offers guidance on storage, distribution 
and sampling of jet fuel, and on inspection of fueling systems for 
offshore helicopter flights. For example, HSAC RP 2004-02 recommends 

--Fuel system owners and operators develop written quality control 
procedures, coordinate inspection of all fuel systems, and correct any 
defects and report the defects to the helicopter operators,
--Helicopter operator or aviation advisory personnel inspect all 
refueling systems at least once a year,
--All fuel delivery systems have a filter/separator equipped with a 
water defense system actuated by high water content,
--All fuel storage containers be allowed to settle for at least an hour 
prior to use or sampling and that all required fuel samples be taken 
prior to the first refueling of the day, and
--Portable offshore fuel transport tanks be tested and documented in 
accordance with Department of Transportation regulations (49 CFR parts 
173 and 180).

    Other HSAC RPs address additional safety issues related to offshore 
helicopter and helideck operations. For example:

--RP 88-1 (Passenger Management on Offshore Helideck Facilities), 
revised May 2010, recommends that helicopters be shut down prior to 
loading/unloading passengers, that designated passenger waiting areas 
be clear of the helideck and helideck access points, and that 
passengers be briefed before loading/unloading.
--RP 89-1 (Crane-Helicopter Operational Procedures), revised May 2010, 
recommends that platform cranes be shut down and cradled (if feasible) 
or pointed away from the helideck when helicopters are approaching or 
taking off, and that if a crane remains in use, the helicopter pilot 
and crane operator be in direct communication and that red warning 
lights on the crane be activated.
--RP 92-2 (Perforating Operations: Helideck/Heliport Operational Hazard 
Warning(s)/Procedure(s)), revised May 2010, recommends that helicopter 
operators or bases be notified prior to offshore perforation 
operations, in order to avoid premature detonation of explosives by 
helicopter radio transmissions, and that helidecks be temporarily 
marked as closed whenever explosives may be affected by radio 
--RP 92-3 (Hydrogen Sulfide Gas Helideck/Heliport Operational Hazard 
Warning(s)/Procedure(s)), revised May 2010, provides that oil field 
operators should activate a red rotating beacon if hydrogen sulfide is 
detected and notify nearby helicopters and bases, and that if a red 
beacon is observed or unusually strong odors are detected when flying 
near a helideck, pilots should put on protective air packs, exit 
upwind, and notify the facility of the suspected hazard.
--RP 92-4 (Gas Venting, Helideck/Heliport Operational Hazard 
Warning(s)/Procedure(s)), revised May 2010, recommends that pilots plan 
their approaches and takeoffs to avoid areas downwind of or over gas 
vents, that oilfield supervisors notify helicopter operators of planned 
gas venting operations, and that large, high-volume gas vents be 
equipped with red rotating beacons.
--RP 92-5 (Helideck/Heliport Operational Warning(s)/Procedure(s)), 
Closed Helidecks or Heliports) states that a white X (or an orange or 
yellow X if the deck is painted white) from corner to corner of a 
helideck is the universal indicator that the landing area is closed and 
that helicopter operations are prohibited.
--RP 93-2 (Offshore Helidecks/Landing Communications), revised May 
2010, states that before landing on offshore facilities, pilots should 
make radio contact, if practicable, with the facility owners or 
operators and that, if radio contact is not practicable, pilots should 
contact the facilities' owners or operators by telephone before 
departing for the facilities.
--RP 93-3 (Multiple Helicopter Operations on Offshore Helidecks), 
revised May 2010, recommends that, before multiple helicopter 
operations, specific restrictions and procedures be developed to ensure 
    --Full clearance of at least one-third rotor diameter from all 
obstacles in the vicinity of the helideck is provided,
    --Factors such as helicopter weight and performance, wind, 
temperature and deck conditions are considered,
    --Helicopters are parked at least three feet from the helideck 
edge, and
    --Parked helicopters are shut down and all main rotor blades are 
properly tied down.
--RP 94-1 (Helicopter Rapid Refueling (HRR)), revised May 2010, states 
    --decisions to conduct HRR require attention to weather, quality 
control, static electricity, spills and fire potential,
    --passengers should be de-boarded prior to beginning HRR unless the 
pilot deems it necessary for passengers to remain seated during HRR, 
    --only designated, properly trained personnel may operate HRR 
--RP 2004-05 (Night Offshore Helicopter Flights), May 2004, provides 
that helidecks should be at least one rotor diameter in size and 
capable of accommodating loaded helicopters of the weight and size for 
night flights, and that lighting should be adequate to illuminate 
obstructions, windsocks, and the helideck perimeter (consistent with 
--RP 2005-1 (Helicopter Tiedown Practices), June 2005, recommends that
    --Offshore helicopters be equipped with helideck tiedowns capable 
of securing the helicopter at four points,
    --Tiedowns be inspected daily and replaced when excessively worn or 
    --Helicopters be tied down when severe weather exists or is 
forecast, and

[[Page 57013]]

    --A parked helicopter be tied down when a medium or larger 
helicopter is landing or taking off.
c. FAA Manual
    While the FAA recognizes BSEE's purview over fixed offshore 
helidecks, the FAA also publishes information for potential use by 
pilots in performing their duties safely even in situations where other 
agencies may have regulatory responsibility. In particular, the FAA's 
Aeronautical Information Manual: Official Guide to Basic Flight 
Information and ATC Procedures (AIM), Feb. 2012 (revised April 2014), 
provides information on offshore helicopter operations, including 
recommended practices expressly based on HSAC's RPs for the GOM.\14\ 
Specifically, Section 10-2-1 of the AIM provides guidance on offshore 
operations directly based on the HSAC RPs previously described.

    \14\ The AIM is available for free online on FAA's Web site at 

    All of the documents described previously are potential candidates 
for incorporation by reference, in whole or in part, in BSEE's 
regulations for fixed offshore facilities. However, some portions of 
some of the HSAC standards apply to issues (e.g., flight operations, 
pilot flight training, and helicopter design) that may be better 
addressed by the FAA or other agencies that regulate aircraft flight 
safety than by BSEE. In addition, as explained above, some of the 
standards (e.g., API RP 2L and HSAC RP 2008-1) are currently undergoing 
revision and may no longer, in some respects, reflect the best and 
safest technology or practices now in use.\15\ Accordingly, as 
discussed later in this notice, we are seeking comments on which of the 
above standards or portions thereof, if any, we should incorporate in 
BSEE's regulations.

    \15\ For example, the helideck warning and marking standards in 
existing API RP 2L and HSAC 2008-1 may not be fully consistent with 
the most current international standards, including the latest 
version of the ICAO's Annex 14 to the CICA.

4. International Standards and Guidance for Helidecks and Helicopter-
Related Operations on Offshore Platforms

    In addition to the API and HSAC standards described previously, 
several international organizations have issued guidance documents that 
contain recommendations for helicopter, helideck, and aviation fuel 
safety on offshore facilities. For example, the International 
Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) Aircraft Management 
Guidelines (Rept. No. 390, July 2008, updated August 2013), includes 
guidance on issues such as:

--Fuel quality control (sec. 7.4),
--Portable offshore fuel tanks (sec. 7.6),
--Airbase/helideck fire protection and equipment (sec. 11.7),
--Heliport and helideck design, size, obstructions, and offshore 
operational hazard considerations (sec. 11.9),
--Helideck personnel qualifications (App. A5D),
--Offshore weather reporting, forecasting, and planning (App. A6), and
--Cold weather helideck precautions (App. A13.9.2.4).\16\

    \16\ The OGP Aircraft Management Guidelines are available for 
free online at http://www.ogp.org.uk/pubs/390.pdf.

    The OGP guidelines are, in turn, largely based on international 
codes and agreements, other guidance documents and industry best 
practices. In particular, OGP relies heavily on volumes I (Aerodromes) 
and II (Heliports) of Annex 14 to the CICA as adopted by the ICAO.\17\ 
The OGP also relies on the United Kingdom's CAP 437 for guidance on 
issues such as:

    \17\ Information about ICAO and its publications is available at 

--Helideck design and physical characteristics,
--Helideck rescue and firefighting equipment,
--Helideck management and operations, and
--Aviation fuel systems and procedures.\18\

    \18\ The UK's CAP 437 is available free online at http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP437.pdf.

    Other international standards or codes also address offshore 
helicopter-related safety.\19\ For example, the USCG regulations for 
helidecks and aviation fuel systems on MODUs, found in 46 CFR parts 108 
and 109, are intended to be consistent with the International Maritime 
Organization (IMO) code requirements for helicopter facilities on MODUs 
that were under development at the time the USCG regulations were 
adopted (see 43 FR 56788, December 4, 1978). The original 1979 IMO Code 
for Construction and Equipment of MODUs (MODU Code) was replaced by the 
1989 IMO MODU Code, which in turn was substantially revised by the 2009 
MODU Code.\20\ The 2009 MODU Code's updated provisions for helidecks 
and helicopter facilities on newly constructed MODUs were prompted by 
similar changes made by ICAO to the CICA with regard to helicopter 
facilities (see IMO Resolution A.1023(26), December 2, 2009). Where 
appropriate, the 2009 MODU Code refers to the latest ICAO Annex 14 
provisions for helicopter and heliport safety.

    \19\ Other international standards organizations include the 
Energy Institute (EI), which jointly produced (with API) EI 1529 
(Aviation Fuelling Hose and Hose Assemblies), Sixth Ed., May 2005, 
an international standard for performance and testing of aircraft 
fueling hoses, couplings, and assemblies. Information about EI and 
its publications can be found at www.energyinst.org.
    \20\ Information about IMO and its publications is available at 

    Among other things, the 2009 MODU Code addresses:

--Fire safety measures for helidecks (i.e., firefighting equipment, 
helideck design and construction materials, emergency exits),
--MODU-helicopter communications,
--Safety measures for refueling facilities and equipment,
--Isolation of aviation fuel storage areas and tanks,
--Helideck design and construction material,
--Helideck perimeter safety netting and protection,
--Visual aids (e.g., wind direction indicators, markings and warnings, 
perimeter and flood lighting, status and warning lights),
--Removal or marking of obstacles on helidecks, and
--Manuals for helideck operating procedures (including helicopter 

    In addition to such international standards, several foreign 
countries with significant offshore oil and gas operations have adopted 
regulations, standards, and guidance applicable to helidecks and 
aviation fuel safety on fixed and floating offshore facilities. For 
example, the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association (OLF) Helideck Manual, 
Jan. 2011, for petroleum facilities on Norway's continental shelf 
provides guidelines for helideck personnel training and qualifications, 
as well as summaries of Norwegian regulatory requirements for helideck 
materials, safety and rescue devices, firefighting equipment and 
systems, visual aids, and communications.\21\ The OLF Helideck Manual 
also provides guidance on helideck operations and aviation fuel safety 
procedures, including:

    \21\ The OLF Helideck Manual, Jan. 2011, is available for free 
on OLF's Web site at http://www.norskoljeoggass.no/en/Publica/HSE-and-operations/Helideck-manual/. A companion OLF document, 
Recommended Guidelines for Helideck Personnel--074, April 2002, is 
also available at http://www.norskoljeoggass.no/Global/Retningslinjer/Drift/LuftfartHelikopter/074%20%20Recommended%20guidelines%20for%20helideck%20personnel.pdf.

--Fuel sampling and testing,
--Inspection of fuel hoses and nozzles,
--Fuel transport and storage tanks, and
--Normal and `hot' refueling procedures.

[[Page 57014]]

    Although BSEE is not required to incorporate by reference any 
standards that are not adopted by voluntary consensus standard-setting 
organizations, each of the above domestic and international documents, 
as well as others not described above, may contain valuable information 
on the best available and safest technology for fixed OCS 
facilities.\22\ Thus, such standards, codes, and guidelines could be 
considered for possible incorporation (in whole or in part) in BSEE's 
rules or could help BSEE determine whether other standards--such as 
API's and HSAC's RPs--should be incorporated instead. In addition, BSEE 
could consider incorporating a combination of appropriate domestic and 
international standards to create a comprehensive, up-to-date 
regulatory framework that reduces potential safety risks related to 
helidecks and aviation fuel systems on fixed OCS facilities.

    \22\ For example, the Air Transport Association of America 
(ATA), an association of commercial airlines, has adopted a standard 
(ATA Spec. 103: Jet Fuel Quality Control at Airports, revised 2006) 
that provides guidance on recognized industry inspection procedures 
and safety checks for jet fuel storage and distribution at airports. 
Although this standard is intended primarily for the commercial 
airline industry, and is not focused on helicopter fuel or offshore 
helidecks, it may contain useful information regarding aviation fuel 
quality, storage, and handling that could inform BSEE's future 
decisions. More information about ATA and this standard is available 
at www.airlines.org.

Other Options for Consideration

    In addition to considering incorporating by reference existing 
industry or other domestic and/or international standards, BSEE is 
considering other regulatory approaches to reduce aviation-related 
safety risks for fixed offshore facilities. For example, some portions 
of an otherwise useful standard may be out of date or may be 
incompatible with portions of another potentially useful standard. In 
such cases, BSEE could incorporate in the regulations relevant parts of 
an existing standard, and/or adopt appropriate modifications to other 
parts of that standard or other standards, and/or develop and adopt new 
prescriptive requirements to minimize risks and improve safety.
    The BSEE is also considering whether any newly incorporated or 
other new regulatory standards for helideck design or construction, and 
for aviation fuel systems, should apply only to new helidecks and 
aviation fuel systems installed on fixed facilities after the effective 
date of such final regulations, or should also apply to existing 
helidecks and fuel systems on fixed OCS facilities, even if that 
requires retrofitting. Accordingly, BSEE will seek additional 
information on the potential costs and other impacts of retrofitting.
    As an alternative to incorporating specific standards or adopting 
other prescriptive requirements, BSEE is considering whether to require 
owners or operators of fixed OCS facilities to develop aviation-related 
safety plans that would demonstrate how the owner or operator would 
ensure safe helicopter, helideck, and aviation fuel system operations. 
For example, such a plan could demonstrate that a fixed OCS facility 
would comply with certain industry or other standards that, taken 
together, would reduce risks and ensure safe and workmanlike conditions 
and safe work areas. The BSEE is also considering whether such plans, 
if required, should be submitted to and approved by BSEE or should be 
subject to evaluation by BSEE upon request (like the SEMS programs 
required under Subpart S of 30 CFR part 250).
    In addition, in order to determine whether OCS facilities and their 
personnel are complying with such plans, BSEE is considering whether 
such aviation-related safety plans should be subject to periodic 
auditing by BSEE or by an accredited third-party (like the SEMS 
programs, see 30 CFR 250.1920-250.1922) or by any other entity.
    Finally, BSEE is aware of the importance of consistency between 
regulatory requirements for all OCS facilities, whether fixed or 
floating. Accordingly, BSEE is considering various options for 
coordinating any future proposed rulemaking with the USCG to maximize 
consistency between BSEE's and USCG's rules. The BSEE also plans to 
consult with the FAA and other agencies interested in safety of 
offshore helicopter operations, as appropriate.

Issues for Public Comment

    For the reasons described above, BSEE seeks public comments on the 
following issues only. Although BSEE is not required to respond in 
writing to such comments, BSEE will consider relevant comments in 
developing any proposed rules for improving safety of helidecks and 
aviation fuel storage and handling on fixed OCS facilities. Please 
identify the specific issue that your comments address by referring to 
the following issue numbers.
    (1) In addition to the statistical reports and summaries described 
in this notice, what other relevant, reliable data on accidents or 
other safety issues related to helicopters, helidecks, or aviation fuel 
systems on fixed offshore facilities should BSEE consider before 
deciding whether to propose any new regulations?
    (2) Which existing domestic or international standards or guidance 
documents, if any, related to planning, design, construction, 
inspection, maintenance and/or use of helidecks on fixed offshore 
facilities should BSEE consider incorporating by reference in its 
regulations? What would the potential cost impacts be if BSEE 
incorporated, and required compliance with, such documents?
    (3) Which domestic or international standards or guidance for 
aviation fuel quality, storage, or handling should BSEE consider 
incorporating in its regulations for fixed offshore facilities? What 
would the potential cost impacts be if BSEE incorporated, and required 
compliance with, such documents?
    (4) If you think that BSEE should consider incorporating any 
existing standards for helidecks or aviation fuel systems, please 
identify any specific provisions in those standards that BSEE should 
not incorporate, or that BSEE should modify or supplement before 
    (5) If you are a fixed offshore facility owner or operator, please 
describe how you currently address any existing industry or other 
standards regarding safety of helidecks and aviation fuel systems.
    (6) What differences between fixed and floating offshore facilities 
should BSEE consider with regard to whether any existing standards that 
apply to floating offshore facilities should be incorporated by BSEE 
for applicability to fixed offshore facilities? How important is it 
that requirements for helidecks and/or aviation fuel systems on fixed 
and floating offshore facilities be consistent?
    (7) What provisions, if any, of USCG's regulations for helidecks on 
MODUs (46 CFR parts 108 and 109) should BSEE consider in developing any 
helideck regulations for fixed offshore facilities?
    (8) If, as an alternative to requiring facilities to comply with 
specific standards, BSEE required owners or operators of fixed offshore 
facilities to develop aviation-related safety plans demonstrating how 
they would ensure safe helicopter, helideck, and aviation fuel 
management operations, how should BSEE ensure the adequacy of, and 
compliance with, such plans?
    (a) For example, should BSEE or an accredited third party or some 
other entity conduct audits of such plans to verify the adequacy and 
proper implementation of the plans?
    (9) If BSEE proposes to incorporate any existing industry standard 
or prescribe any other requirements for

[[Page 57015]]

helideck lighting, what helideck perimeter lighting properties (e.g., 
specific color, brightness) should we incorporate or otherwise require?
    (10) If BSEE decides to apply any new regulatory standards for 
helideck design or construction, and for aviation fuel systems, to all 
existing helidecks and fuel systems on fixed OCS facilities, even if 
that required retrofitting existing helidecks or aviation fuel systems, 
what types of costs would existing facilities potentially incur?
    (11) What structural, technical or economic issues related to the 
aging of existing offshore facilities and helidecks should BSEE 
consider when deciding how to improve aviation-related safety on fixed 
OCS facilities?
    (12) Are you aware of any potential risks from helicopter engines 
ingesting methane or other gases vented from a fixed OCS facility and, 
if so, how should BSEE address those potential risks?

    Dated: September 11, 2014.
 David E. Haines,
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management.
[FR Doc. 2014-22716 Filed 9-23-14; 8:45 am]