API Asks for Relief from Certain Regulations Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Reuters, March 23, 2020

The American Petroleum Institute has asked U.S. President Donald Trump for help suspending certain regulatory requirements on the oil and gas industry to ensure steady fuel supplies during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a letter it sent to Trump and seen by Reuters.

The oil and gas industry is part of a long list of businesses seeking help to counter the impact of the global pandemic, which has infected more than 250,000 people worldwide, decimated travel, and forced massive disruptions in daily life around the world.

The API lobby group said in the letter, dated Friday, it was mainly concerned that coronavirus would leave it with limited numbers of healthy staff to run critical operations.

The oil and natural gas industry, like other critical infrastructure sectors, is working tirelessly to ensure there is no interruption in our supply chains as a result of this pandemic,” according to the letter, signed by API President Michael Sommers.

It added, “We will be requesting assistance in temporarily waiving non-essential compliance obligations from the relevant agencies and departments within your Administration and/or their state counterparts, and may include recordkeeping, training or other non-safety critical requirements.”

The API said the regulatory relief could include things like waivers for seasonal fuel requirements, a suspension of non-essential inspections and audits, and certain leasing and permitting considerations.

A White House official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Oil prices have slumped as a result of the coronavirus and a price war between major global producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, threatening the profitability of the once booming U.S. drilling business.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Valdmanis, Chris Reese and Diane Craft)

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